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Friday June 2, 2017

A heavy heart

RM1Stitchcraft1952.jpg

Since the announcement about Sir Roger the "heavy heart" has been much used. For all that, I use it here as it exactly describes how I feel - not devastated or truly affected, as I did not know the man personally, but... well... sad.
By all accounts he was a lovely unaffected man and that is just what we would like to believe of our icons.

I always knew of his modelling career and as this is a "knitting" site I am marking it here. I am only sorry that he was made to feel uncomfortable about it in the 1960s; I cannot quite convey how deeply unfashionable knitting was in the 1960s - especially among the hip and groovy fraternity. But he lived with it - and now it takes on much less significance when compared with his subsequent achievements.

He was always sartorially elegant - in The Saint his wardrobe is credited as being Mr Moore's own, and in The Persuaders, Brett Sinclair's wardrobe designed by Roger Moore. This idea appeals to me - see this fun blog.

As a final note - what strikes me about these early photo shoots - with RM in his early twenties - is how much fun they seem to be having. I am not being naive here - I know that modelling is not as glamorous as the pictures - especially in that less technological era - it would have been hard work and you spent long hours stuck in implausible poses and inclement weather (windy by the looks of it!) trying to look comfortable and natural. But somehow they seem overall to be having a laugh and the joy of it shines through. A fitting memorial alongside the rest of the man who went on to become so very famous, and who dedicated himself in his later years to working so hard for good causes.

RM2Stitchcraft1952.jpg

Posted on June 2, 2017 at 8:06 AM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday February 19, 2017

Unravel 2017

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As we had the class on yesterday, I went to Unravel on today, and took Kate and Jill with me. Neither of them had been before so it was quite fun to be a (small) group. I was inspired by the sock designs from Coop Knits, and could not resist more fluff from John Arbon

CoopKnits.jpg

Posted on February 19, 2017 at 6:06 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday February 18, 2017

Another year another sock blank

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This is meant to show everyone happily at work on their blanks - but it has turned out rather like forgetting to take a picture of the celebration dinner until after the food is is all eaten up! Below we have all the blanks drying in the sunshine - just to prove there really was a class.

SockBlanks2-Feb2017.jpg

Posted on February 18, 2017 at 5:04 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday February 5, 2017

It's all in the preparation....

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As I have not touched the dyes since we did the last class - which turns out to be 5 years ago (!) - I dyed two blanks at home, using steaming to fix instead of a microwave. Last time we used pure merino, and so I also wanted to check out the 25% nylon blend. I used the dyes I had already mixed up from back then and astonishingly it all worked fine; some of the solutions had gone a little granular. [Nevertheless, I shall be mixing fresh dye for the class].

SockBlanks3-Feb2017.jpg

I took both blanks and knitted the start of a sample sock for demonstration purposes. What interested me mostly was that I thought I liked the blue blank the best. I thought I was getting tired once I got to do the red one and rather rushed it. However, for the resulting sock, I think the red one is much nicer. I think it is the very bright blue, and the way it interacts with the white that is the mistake in the colour combination.

SockBlanks4-Feb2017.jpg

Posted on February 5, 2017 at 6:53 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday November 13, 2016

Small person gansey

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I delivered the completed sweater to Penelope who obligingly seems to fit into it quite well.

It's a fishing smock from the vintage Debbie Bliss book "Nautical Knits for Kids" . Originally designed for Rowan Denim, I used some vintage Sirdar Tropicana "cotton effect" 4 ply - which is acrylic, and much finer than Denim but I wanted the result to be smaller, and luckily it seems to have kept its proportions and looks right.

Posted on November 13, 2016 at 5:10 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday October 1, 2016

Grand Stash Sale

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This is our rather optimistic attempt at a stash sale. Unfortunately it was a really poor day from the perspective of the weather and we did not get many people through the doors. However I thought it went well enough and we all had fun - and we even sold some stuff. Even I - who went home with virtually all I came with (which you can see was quite some stash!) - managed to sell enough to cover the cost of my table.

Posted on October 1, 2016 at 3:33 PM

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Saturday June 18, 2016

Guild

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Just a quick photo of our general meeting at the Box Hill village hall decorated to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. Very festive.
I spent the meeting gossiping and knitting socks for Terry which will probably end up being completed tomorrow (actually on his birthday, but not able to be delivered...). I also picked up a couple of patterns: one for another blanket - a simple concept in thick yarn using slipped stitches, and two, a pattern for a kind of cricket cardigan by Martin Storey (wouldn't you know?) that I have been after for some time; not for a chap this time though, probably for me, if I ever make it.

Posted on June 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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Thursday June 9, 2016

The final variation on the theme

Here is the final colourway evolved from Kaffe KAL 2014. Its a simple granny square version using the sets of 4 colours originally specified for each square - but I have reversed the colour order within the squares on some pieces and also randomised the layout. I also made some mistakes in the colour combinations on some squares which I left "in" the design.
It's resulted in a very colourful blanket - smaller than the original knitted versions as each square is smaller; I could have increased the size of the squares with extra rounds but I preferred the balance as it is.

Posted on June 9, 2016 at 9:49 AM

Comments

So you knitted Kaffe's patterm, with different yarn, different colors, and different placements! Excellent. Tee hee

Posted by: Alison on June 28, 2016 5:48 AM

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Sunday April 24, 2016

Variations on a theme

It's always the dilemma ..... you are either "doing" or writing about it - and it's always so much better to be "doing".
So what have I been up to that has kept me so quiet?

I decided at the beginning of last year that I wanted to make the Kaffe KAL 2014 striped blankets in each colourway. However I discovered while making the cushion, that although I loved the design of his finished blankets, I did not enjoy the construction technique at all. So I decided to make variations using Kaffe's colour schemes, (he always knows best...!) but not his pattern. This project has been long in the planning and after a year I have completed two blankets (alongside other projects I admit).

The first blanket I made in the red colour scheme (above) and the second in the blue (below). For more detail on the construction see the Knitalong section.

The pastel blanket is still underway in the original design and the brown one (I made the brown cushion as part of the KAL), is a granny square crochet design.

Posted on April 24, 2016 at 8:18 AM

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Saturday February 20, 2016

Unravel 2016

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So time for Unravel again - the highlight of the day was seeing Susan Crawford talking about her Shetland Project - albeit via Skype as the poor woman has injured her back. It worked extremely well in fact and as always pretty fascinating.

I managed to pick up some token purchases, including some 4.5mm Karbonz interchangeable needles since the ones I got at Christmas are the shorter type (my mistake on Amazon wish list), and some additional wires (mine keep breaking). I also picked out a couple of patterns - one for the Jane Crowfoot Persian Tile Blanket which I much admired when she came to the Guild last year. I found it hard to find much I really wanted - which is a Good Thing. But then I did buy some dyed merino blended fibre in spice colours to maybe ultimately have a go at Martin Storeys latest KAL (in the distant future once I have spun it...!).

Later on I went to my sister's for tea before heading home. Flint (collie) is recovering from an emergency eye operation and is really peaky - seems he will end up pretty blind after all this - poor dog. So Lyn was a bit fed up on his behalf - but she did politely admire the spice coloured fluff.

Once again utterly mystified by the parking arrangements at Waggoners Yard. Last year I downloaded the Waverley phone app to pay for parking and due to what can fairly be described as a "user error" ended up getting a ticket. This year - app to hand - I found that the automatic parking reference number had been removed - so I used the same one as last year - which it recognised - then said I could not use it.... On further investigation it seems Waverley have "withdrawn the service". And I thought I was being so down with the kids.... Come to think of it there's no chance of that - I go to a show and spend half the blog entry discussing the parking arrangements - there is no hope for me...

Posted on February 20, 2016 at 7:49 PM

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Saturday January 30, 2016

The Age of Aquarius

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I never realised how much I was a child of the seventies (ok - "young adult") until the recent fashion surge towards ... I'm not sure towards what actually .... I don't really remember embracing the seventies fashion at the time, but whatever is going on now is clearly having it's effect on me.

[OK - I am not deluded into thinking that the above photo shows me in the most flattering garment I have ever worn - but I do love it!]

At first I noticed that almost all my old magazines of the period have apparently relevant patterns in them - I never had so many potential candidates for "Pattern of the Month", especially not so many that are actually wearable right now. Of course the styling is a bit laughable, but ridiculing our former fashion mistakes seems to be ..... fashionable. (I have to come clean here and say I don't altogether approve; I read an apposite quote once about not trying to appear wise by mocking our younger selves, and it struck a chord as I think I did it all the time.)
Next, I realised that not only did I have a lot of candidates for POM but I wanted to knit them all myself! This is a daunting prospect for one such as I with so much knitting in progress already - but nonetheless I metaphorically girded my loins and set forth with my needles (and yarn) on a voyage of New Age (or possibly Old Age) discovery.

The result is that I have adapted a good example of a pattern that looks pretty dubious because of its styling but is really just a simple wrap shape for a "blanket coat" (noting that old people like blankets ... so ... perfect for me in every way).
Below ("read more") are the notes on what I did and I have posted the full original pattern as the January 2016 entry on POM.

Pattern Notes for the Coatigan

The original pattern is for a "thickish" double knitting yarn - possibly an American worsted weight - knitted as stripes all in garter stitch. It's a tweedy marl yarn and produces a good effect just as written. The sizing is for men, but goes down to a 38 inch chest - so for a big cosy blanket effect should be ok for many women.

I wanted to copy the kind of coatigan I have seen commercially available at the moment - both in colour and texture, which would be black/grey tweeds. In fact, were I a weaver I might have been tempted to try and weave the garment, as it is mainly made up of rectangular segments. However I am not - so back to reality.
I wanted to use yarn I already had, and it needed to be something I had a lot of. Thus back to my old favourite: Sirdar Peru, which is a discontinued yarn. I have a lot of the colour "Tailor" - a grey/black - but decided it was not tweedy enough, so I worked a tweedy stitch, combining it with the cream colour Llama. (Note here that if you decide to knit - your sister for example - a chunky sweater for Christmas in lovely creamy Sirdar Peru in Llama - it is a "graduated" yarn and in Llama this means it looks like it is a cream sweater where someone has accidentally spilled tea on it during the knitting process. It is not quite so noticeable or unappealing in the other colour options....).

Coatigan1.jpg

The stitch I used was "almost" garter stitch. Every row is purl, and you slip some stitches on some of the rows, which creates the pattern. Do not be tempted to decide after you have knitted several inches that: "I've had enough of this purl stuff and why aren't I just doing it knitwise in any case as it's just the same?" - because, while it is just the same, the tension is massively different, and you will knit 20 inches of the back only to discover that your knitting made a step change and lost 2 whole inches in width. (Ask me how I know). If you set out from the start by knitting all knitwise you will need to compensate by checking your tension against the size you intend to knit.
So - enough preamble - here are the pattern rows - worked over an odd number of stitches.

1st row (right side facing): Purl in main colour. Leave main colour hanging.
2nd row: Join in contrast colour, purl 1, with wool at front, * slip 1, purl 1; repeat from * to end.
3rd row: Continuing with contrast colour only, purl 1, put wool to back of work, * slip 1, bring wool forward, purl 1; repeat from * to end, and leave contrast colour hanging.
4th row: Pick up main colour again and purl across all stitches
5th row: Purl across all stitches in main colour.
6th row: Pick up contrast colour again, purl 2, with wool at front, * slip 1, purl 1 ; repeat from * to last stitch, purl 1.
7th row: Continuing with contrast colour as before, purl 2, put wool to back of work, * slip 1, bring wool forward, purl 1; repeat from * to last stitch, purl 1.
8th row: Purl in main colour.
These 8 rows form pattern. You can choose the light colour for the main and dark as contrast or vice versa. My version has the dark colour as the main colour. You can also produce a nice effect by reversing the colours after every 8 row repeat, or by knitting several sets of the 4 rows and then reversing. I experimented by starting with the main colour dark, and knitting one set of 8 rows and then the first row again in dark, I then knitted 2 rows purl in light, and the next 8 rows (2- 8 then the 1st again) reversing the colours with my main colour being light... and so on .. bounding each set in 2 extra rows of purl garter stitch. You could change every set of 4 pattern rows by inserting 2 extra rows between rows 5 and 6 for narrower stripes.
This really is a very adaptable stitch - and very easy to execute.

Having got back on track and choosing to stick with the purl version as written, the fabric it produced is lovely. A sort of cosy double thickness where I actually love the wrong side of the knitting easily as much as the right side. It's firm while also squashy, so it keeps its boxy shape - but not too much. Sirdar Peru is not pure wool (60% wool/alpaca) but it is lovely and soft and... blankety.

Which brings me to probably the most important point about the sizing. Sirdar Peru is not a double knit or a worsted weight yarn, but a chunky. It is a thinnish chunky, even though the standard tension of 14 stitches to 10cm or 4 inches puts it firmly in the chunky range if you use the right needles. I used 5mm needles and made a swatch using my pattern stitch, and came up with just about the actual tension stated in the Blanket Coat pattern - 18 stitches by 32 rows to 4 inches. In fact the number of rows was not quite right but easily fixed by knitting it to whatever length you want for the coat - which in my case I wanted to be a bit smaller than the man's length given in the pattern in any case. So I ploughed right ahead and made my pieces using the smallest 38 inch size (I am generally a size 12 with a 36-38 inch chest) an adding 4 extra stitches to the 2 front pieces.
Having tried it on, it certainly fitted well - but more like a conventional cardigan than a capacious coatigan, so I moved to plan B. I inserted vertical stripes of the pattern at the sides and the front borders increasing the size to about 40 inches - I had always thought this might be a nice decorative feature and it became a useful strategy. The sleeves were easy to fit either straight as intended or with a tiny part of the side seam to attach to the underarm insert.

Voilà.

The original pattern has patch pockets - I chose to add conventional "insert" pockets sewn down on the inside.

A short note on picking up stitches for the front band and the sleeves:

Using this pattern stitch, I picked up 2 stitches for every 4 rows to make the side panels and the front bands. [By comparison with stocking stitch where you might pick up 2 stitches for every 3 rows].
I also did this when knitting the sleeves - I picked up about 92 stitches equally spaced around the shoulder seam, and knitted the sleeves downwards so I could choose how long to make them. I did adapt the pattern here slightly to reduced the sheer volume of the sleeves, which was a bit overwhelming in chunky weight with this stitch.
I began by knitting 8 pattern rows then I decreased one stitch at each every 16th row (2 patterns) 10 times, leaving 72 stitches. I knitted to the length I wanted the sleeve, then I reversed the knitting (by knitting extra plain purl rows in the main colour) before setting off with the pattern again - this allows the cuff to turn back without the wrong side of the knitting being on show.

Posted on January 30, 2016 at 2:48 PM

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Thursday October 8, 2015

Knitting and Stitching at Alexandra Palace

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Only a view of the lovely autumn colours in the park this year. The show itself seemed to lack lustre - I can't put my finger on why - there seemed to be a good choice of products and vendors, and the Guilds were there - just lacked the energy and excitement of previous visits. I did think that perhaps this was because it's the first time I went without Sheila, but it seems there are a lot of similar comments on Ravelry.
[And I bought nothing - really nothing...]

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 8:27 PM

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Saturday July 18, 2015

Crochet with beads

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We were lucky enough to have Jane Crowfoot teaching a crochet workshop today. We were supplied with a pincushion project to teach techniques, and most of us managed to finish in the day. [I have put a stone inside mine to use as a paperweight - much too nice for a pincushion]

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FelicitysCrochetPincushion.jpg

Posted on July 18, 2015 at 6:57 PM

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Saturday April 18, 2015

Mug Hugs

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Our workshop with Fiona Morris (Distance Knitting) was to make Mug Hugs - which I felt quite neutral about previously but having tried using mine I now feel quite hostile towards them. But that is an aside - the whole point was to knit something small in the round and then make a steek for the handle - and thus learn the technique.

We all finished (more or less!) in the day and marshalled our little army for the photo

Posted on April 18, 2015 at 6:15 PM

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Friday April 3, 2015

Bathing Machine Blanket

BathingBlanket1.jpg

I actually "started" this self-warping pin loom blanket in 2013 when I made the first squares for a cushion backing. I love this colour (Blanket Blue) - but I had only enough at the time for a few squares, and ever since I looked for more of the colour on eBay, and met with with great success.** So I took up the project again and finally completed the blanket.

I had the idea right from the start that I wanted it in only blue and white, which is fine if you want a chequerboard of plain squares. I thought I could do some sort of checked weave but that is difficult with the self-warping technique. On my other blankets where I wanted to achieve a mixture, I was obliged to use crochet for the alternate squares. So ... I experimented by simply alternating strands of the two colours, and the resulting pattern is great - but not at all what I expected! It clearly results from the technique but no idea of the maths to explain it.
Anyway - I love it.

BathingBlanket3.jpg

For the edging I wanted a barber's pole effect and could not see how to do this with an iCord, so I used the normal technique to create a knitted bias striped strip, joining it only on one side as I knitted, and then folding it over and sewing it in place on the other side. I actually liked the wide flat striped edging quite a lot without sewing it into a binding, but I did not want the blanket to have a right and a wrong side so I had to forego the wider edge.

BathingBlanket2.jpg

The name I am using is a little odd for a blanket but the stripes remind me of Victorian bathing costumes - or children's stockings in that era - and the old photos of the ladies in their bathing machines being wheeled to the edge of the sea to bathe in some kind of privacy.

BathingMachineBrighton.jpg

** I think I can fairly say I am now swamped with vintage Sirdar Peru in all colours - I love the yarn and it suits my pin loom very well.

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 9:59 AM

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Sunday March 8, 2015

Knitting and Stitching at Olympia

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Jennie and I went to the show at Olympia. I think she was quite impressed with it in comparison to the shows at Sandown, as it is a lot bigger and there was a lot more choice of fabric. I bought a couple of pieces of fabric to line bags, and towards the end of the day, I discovered some budget yarn on offer so needless to say came home with a bumper sack full of acrylic fibre.

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Posted on March 8, 2015 at 11:30 AM

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Saturday February 21, 2015

Unravel 2015

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I went to Unravel and acquired a satisfactory amount of swag - not too much but enough... (no fibre.....!). As usual I was mesmerized at Eliza Conway's nostalgia items on sale (I may have bought one or two), and was interested to see Joyce Meader had her own stall - I see myself in her position in years to come, selling my vintage yarns and patterns as kits.... Unfortunately I missed her talk "Three Decades of explosive knitwear" scheduled for Sunday. I did however, take in the talk "Knitting with colour, inspiration and techniques" with Alison Ellen. I was almost inspired to buy her book but think I may add it to my wish list for next Christmas instead.

Later on I met my sister for a Thai meal at the Golden Fleece in Elstead - a favourite haunt - conveniently located half way between our homes.

Posted on February 21, 2015 at 7:29 PM

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Monday January 12, 2015

Stash

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George thought someone had delivered a body* - but it was just my eBay purchases - a load of acrylic double knitting to knit nice robust cheerful blankets. I know I have a stash the size of Everest but I think there must be some rule that says you get to 60 and start knitting in nylon and acrylic.
There it is.
Can't be helped.

* It was very densely packed thanks to a lovely eBay seller who kept postage to a minimum for me.

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 9:24 AM

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Monday January 5, 2015

Christmas Furbelows

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I spent a lot of time adapting some lettering from from the Debbie Bliss magazine No 5 for Winter 2010 - they originally spelled out HOME, so I had to adapt the E and make up the N.

I then found that all along I had a pattern for "noel" (albeit rather different and very much smaller in size) again by Debbie Bliss but this time from the book "The Knitter's Year". I really like these softer coloured lower-case letters so I thought I would make some for my sister and perhaps a set for myself (for next Christmas!).

My original idea was to cover some papier maché lettering that I bought in Hobbycraft with the knitted fabric but this proved impossible. I like these letters though, so I covered them in fabric and attached ribbon to make (future) tree decorations.

noel2.jpg

[...and thus already one off my New Year List - see previous entry]

Posted on January 5, 2015 at 8:10 PM

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Thursday August 21, 2014

Woolfest - post-sales

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I spun the purple fluff I bought at Woolfest and knitted another Stellaria as planned. [Just confirming that for once the plan was followed through in a timely manner].

This Stellaria has a lovely light soft woollen feel to it - but of course has lost the silky drape that results using yarns such as Rowan Damask.

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 9:14 AM

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Sunday July 20, 2014

Martin Storey's Mystery Afghan Knitalong

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For some reason this Rowan knitalong appealed to me so I duly started on the Thursday before Easter and here we are 10 weeks later - or whatever - and the blanket is complete. The blanket should be made in Rowan Pure Wool Worsted - which would be nicer than my choice which was to use "oddments" from my attic. This was not a cost cutting exercise but an attempt to make good use of yarn that I seem to have collected a lot of over the years. However the problem with oddments is that you never have enough of the right shades; so I spent a good deal of time stripping out plies and combining yarns to make the thickness I wanted in the colours I wanted. In two cases I altered the pattern (number of stitches) slightly to make the squares come out to the right size. The blanket is not pure wool but I have tried to make every square with some plies of synthetic and wool in it.

You can read more on the detail here.

I intentionally never went to view the intended yarn and colours as I knew that if I saw the Rowan yarn there was a good chance I would convince myself to buy it and that was not the idea. So I tried to match as best I could from the illustrations on the internet. I am very pleased with the result even though I know that in some cases I have substituted a colour (too many subtle shades of brown for me to match). I cracked over two colours: one was the raspberry pink - I have a number of pinks in my collection but not enough to really get enough contrast in 3 pinks - I purchased some new acrylic yarn in "Raspberry"; the other was the mustard colour for the edging - I had some mustard 4 ply but not enough - I purchased some vintage Sirdar Fontein Crepe 4ply in a deeply unappealing mustard colour and enhanced it with my 4 ply*.

In any event, the resulting blanket looks a little odd - or should I say unusual - and I think my attempt is as good as any. I did follow Martin's layout scheme, which I think is very cleverly done, (as you'd expect - he's a designer!).

* I bought this from one of my favourite vendors at Woolfest. Her stall is devoted to vintage craft equipment - looks like my own work room - nostalgic rather than cute - I love it.

Posted on July 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

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Saturday June 28, 2014

Woolfest 2014

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Back at Woolfest again this year - as ever, delighting in the rare breeds parade.
I saw a sheep that was new to me - the Grey-faced Dartmoor; not so clear in this photo but with all her fine ringlets, she reminded me of one of those regency ladies from a Georgette Heyer novel.

GreyFacedDartmoor.jpg

On Thursday evening when I arrived, I joined Carol and Pete (the Spindlers2) plus Margaret for a meal at the Bitter End again - to which I was able to walk this time. As last year, a very enjoyable time with a drink or two as I did not have to drive.

I stayed in a new hotel (The Manor House) which is right in the centre of Cockermouth, hence it very easy to walk out into the town to eat or shop. On Friday evening, though, I chose to eat in the hotel, (delicious - lamb shanks) - in fact the hotel really did offer a "warm welcome" as advertised, and I was very lucky to have stumbled across an available room there at such short notice.

Woolfest14-1.jpg

The weather was very pleasant, and I was easily able to walk to the venue - I did debate about this as I would not have the car if I bought anything substantial, but decided walking was too tempting to miss. I went to several demonstrations but was anxious to catch Rosemary Stow, a rag-rug maker, and Bapple and Jojo who were providing a demonstration of "Standing wool ('Quillie') rug making" - a technique new to me. It's a simple enough concept but like all things there is skill and knowledge required to achieve workable results.

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I also made a new friend, Lin, who was one of the vendors - Weaver's Bazaar - their stall was constantly mobbed as they seemed to provide continuous demos of tapestry weaving. They are located in East Grinstead so I hope to continue the acquaintance once we return home. [Not that I'm a weaver but I live in hope... I am very keen on what I now know to call Lateral Looms - a Guild member brought one in some years ago and I was very smitten with it - this is the first time I have seen one for sale commercially - I may try and construct one for myself... one day when I am at a loose end.]

Woolfest14-WeaversBazaar.jpg

Here are my purchases after day 1:

Some merino and silk fibre to spin and to knit Deborah a version of Stellaria (not only my favourite plant but also favourite pattern it seems). >>Here<< complete...

Woolfest14-Swag1.jpg

Some lovely fibre ("My Precious") from Spindlers2, which attracted me as it looked so wonderful when knitted up - I plan to send to Alison.

Woolfest14-Swag2.jpg

Some perfect vintage wool to edge my Martin Storey Mystery blanket in mustard. Looks like it came from my attic - but did not.

Woolfest14-Swag3.jpg

On Saturday morning I bought some Herdwick lamb to take home for us to eat, and, as I bought a 2 day ticket, I popped back to the Mitchell's venue again, with the car this time, and bought a few bags of bargain fluff on Saturday morning before heading out home.

Posted on June 28, 2014 at 3:58 PM

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Thursday March 13, 2014

Olympia

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As an experiment to see how I felt, I spent my day off at the Knitting and Stitching Show. I thought if I went to a different venue without Sheila then it might not be so bad. On that score, I can't say it worked out too well. However, I knitted my sock on the train, and saw some arty quilts. I'm not keen on picture quilts but there seemed to be a seaside theme which redeemed them in my eyes.

KSSQuiltsOlympia.jpg

I also spotted one of those delightful relics of former railway splendour at Clapham Junction - a part that they have failed to mess up with modernisation. To be fair I think it was in the process of renovation rather than demolition and I am not sure how old it is - but wonderful in its shabby state.

Bannister.jpg

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 1:08 PM

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Sunday February 23, 2014

Orkney

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I finally finished sewing up the Orkney cardigan - I am delighted with it - but not so much with my figure inside it - it's really quite tight. I am hoping this is the heaviest I will ever be and that I can look forward to a slimmer me so it might not be such a squeeze in the longer term....

Posted on February 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM

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Monday January 13, 2014

Out with the old....

Rowan55.jpg Rowan have published their summer magazine - it's so lovely to see fresh summery things on cold dreary days. Not just the promise of new knitwear but of sunny summer days to look forward to as well.

For me, it's a bit of a disaster as they have a huge number of patterns with stripes - all of which I long, not just to knit, but to wear.....

They currently seem to be going with a format for the magazines of 3 "themes", which are all a bit pretentious I think, (though when you see the collections you can see what they are getting at). It amuses me that I (usually) clearly dismiss one or other of the themes out of hand without quite realising that is what I am doing - mostly, as in this case, either too weird or too wishy washy (neutrals don't suit me so well). However, the ones that I like in this magazine are just perfect in every way.... stripey....


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...and arty....

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So - as I seem to have carried 11 projects over from last year (an all-time record since I have been keeping track - though nothing quite beats "Foolish Virgins" - on the needles since 1992...) I have resolved to make some headway with project completion before buying any more wool. Or to be more precise, before starting any more projects - I'm afraid I have already purchased a good deal of sale wool in the past month or so - so much wonderful stuff at budget prices from Black Sheep Wools.
This resolution is not going too badly so far, as I have already completely two out of the 11, with 2 more soon to follow. Not sure how many have to be done and dusted before I can start on those summer stripes!

Boardwalk Wharf Sailor Promenade Alma Bliss Dia Madia

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 7:01 PM

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Saturday June 29, 2013

Homecoming

RegattaTee.jpg

When I got home I had a surprise parcel waiting for me with a delightful cotton top Alison has knitted for me. I had to put it on immediately of course - and it looks great I think.
It's the Regatta Tee by Olga Casey.

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 6:34 PM

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Friday June 28, 2013

Woolfest 2013

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Back at Woolfest again this year for an indulgent time all to myself. The weather was not as appalling as last year, but it did rain once again.... My first two visits must have been a fluke.

My first act was to check out my pennant - and here it is (centre of photo below) - still in place. My second act was to check out Spindlers2 and buy .... just perhaps a couple of things from them .... ahem...

Woolfest13-2.jpg

Other than that I did not come away weighted down with purchases in general. A couple of small gifts and a membership of the rare breeds trust in hand - plus a small bag of alpaca from the fleece sale.
I bought some cashmere and silk fibre from Knitwitches - their yarns are wonderful - "seriously gorgeous" in fact. There was a bit of a distraction on their stand while I was there as Eirwen had just discovered that she had lost one of her sample shawls (presumably to a despicable thief - need I say more) - words fail me really...
No specific pattern for it yet except I know I want to make a shawl - actually I wanted to make a navy shoulder shawl as I seem to be short of one such on this trip - however I find the colourway I have purchased, called "Nightshade" (I was thinking "night"), is more purple (they were thinking "plant").

In the evening, I joined Carol and Pete (the Spindlers2) plus friends for a meal at the Bitter End in Cockermouth - a really good end to the day in nice relaxing company.

And after that.... it was back to the dear old Derwent Bank where I managed to get a room again this year. There have been a few changes since I was last here - probably on balance to the good - certainly more commercial. A little cafe has opened which is a nice addition, meaning you can get food throughout the day - plus you can book your evening meal viably before 6 rather than the preceding day - which was tricky for late arrivals. They threatened me with an Internet connection - but it didn't quite work out for me on the day (!) - and then just as I was wondering how to spend my first quiet evening, (yesterday), I did a double take when I noticed that my room had a television - so I was able to watch Wimbledon - perfect.

DerwentBank.jpg

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 1:12 PM

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Monday May 20, 2013

The problem with automation...

...is that it's simply not a person.
I finished the little fair-isle waistcoat (Debbie Bliss design) - and found an error. It's one row offset wrongly and wouldn't really happen with hand knitting - or if it did you would notice it immediately you looked at it from a right side row. Instead, I did not notice until I was pressing it. You can compare the top set of navy blocks with the bottom set.

FairIsleMistakes.jpg

So now I have painstakingly unpicked it and grafted new stitches in on just that one row. Machine knitting is quicker than hand - but not quick enough to contemplate redoing the whole thing. I have also (by design) cheated here, in that there is a single row of red yarn to go into these little navy blocks, where I decided the strand at the back of the work was too long - seeing as it's for a child, I think he might catch it - so I am swiss embroidering the red dots.
You can see it in this pop-up of the finished item.

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 11:08 PM

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Saturday February 23, 2013

Unravel 2013

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He's a splendid chap isn't he? Just standing around in the stairwell at Unravel, where I spent the afternoon (not just in the stairwell - though it was tempting).
It was an uncharacteristically busy day for me today. I attended the Guild meeting in the morning, and then went on to Farnham Maltings in the afternoon, as I'd agreed to meet my internet friend Sara in the afternoon.
We spent some time together mooching - visiting the knitting machine Guild's stand and discussing vintage equipment (which all participants in the conversation seemed to have). I bought some vintage crochet hooks (I don't have enough), some sock yarn from Fiberspates (I don't have enough), and some buttons (I don't have enough). The buttons were pretty interesting - Lisa (Stealthbunny) makes them uses "found" items and I bought some beauties made from polished stones containing ammonites.

After that I spent the evening with Lyn and Terry - we went out to eat at the Roadmaker Inn in Bordon which has a Gurkha restaurant - yum.

And just to finish off - George is in France currently and reported that there's a lot of mole activity.... Here are our old friends the moles at Unravel.

UnravelMoles.jpg

Posted on February 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM

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Friday November 30, 2012

Books in November

I did not read much fiction this month, but I did do a lot of knitting! So here are a couple of knitting booklets and magazines I am enjoying:

  • Debbie Bliss magazine (issue 9) by Debbie BlissDebbieBlissWinter2012.jpg
    This is Autumn/Winter 2012, and though the designs did not hit me in the face with this issue, it does contain some excellent reading (as a magazine should):
    • Rosy devotes her letters section to some excellent advice on toy-making - including how to make those tiny little buttons you need for dolls clothes. (A subject close to my own heart).
    • Nell gives a recipe for a yummy Polish apple cake.
    • One of the book reviews is about Cute and Easy Crochet by Nikki Trench, which inspired me to think about crochet tops for home-made jam given as a gift (or for yourself if you are posh!). I was thinking you could use my Pattern of the Month motif - crochet to the size of your lid, then do a few rows of dc (or sc) without increasing, and finish with a row of increasing and picot to create the frill. I know you are supposed to be inspired to buy the book not run away and do your own thing - but they are on the cover.... I can only imagine the rest of the book is even more inspiring if this is what you get from the cover alone!
    • There is a trend report on coming fashions - which leads into the knitting.

    I have to say - on the one hand I don't want to immediately go and buy wool and make something - but on the other, there are some scrumptious things here:
    • Snow Whites - probably the most appealing to me and maybe I do feel a chunky white cabled polo-neck in the offing.
    • Furry Tales - some great accessories, with knitting in combination with fake-fur fabrics (I love these combinations), and some gorgeous pom-pom mittens.
    • Two simple knits for beginners with user experiences.
    • Little Critters - kids with animal-knit accessories (cute!).
    • Folklore - reminiscent of those 1950s Tyrolean knits with embroidery in folksy colour combinations. In theory I like this - in practice - not. Lovely pom-poms again though....
    • Boys - the perfect magazine - no less than 6 wonderful mens' designs and 2 for kids as well.
    • Home on the Range - my least favourite section (which is just me - I don't like this Peruvian/Ranch style one little bit - though having said that there is the most adorable pair of bootee moccasins with beading in 3 shades of Baby Cashmerino...)

  • Rowan magazine 52 Rowan52.jpg
    Rowan's Autumn/Winter 2012, seems very muted and traditional in style. Where there are more innovative pieces, they are too quirky and I don't want them - but then Rowan is always one step ahead of where I want to be and I often find I knit things from the magazines a couple of years after they published them (when I've got used to the idea!).
    However, there is a lot of traditional stuff here, (that I love), seemingly in rather dull colours - BUT - I happened to see one of the cardigans (Orkney) on display at Alexandra Palace this year and the colours absolutely glowed! So I had to have the wool for this cardigan (Felted Tweed - my favourite!) and I have already started the knitting. There is also an appealing pattern for some slippers along the lines of Snowflake Slippers (one of the free Rowan patterns I knitted very successfully) for which I have also bought the wool.

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

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Thursday November 8, 2012

ATP Tennis at the O2

ATP2012.jpg

Just a little photo to prove I was here. The tennis was exciting enough to overcome any signs of jetlag, though our man did not do so well.
I came equipped with my chosen O2 knitting supply - another Hitchhiker scarf, in sparkly purple yarn that Helen chose for herself while we were at Woolfest. Ultimately it became this:

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Posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:28 AM

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Friday November 2, 2012

At home with the Woodlands

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Early morning coffee is always themed at the Woodlands. Today we are influenced by the astonishing banana crop from Alison's tree in the garden, and we may take coffee on the terrace or in the cabana. Often we are joined by well-known celebrities (even if only in spirit). The resemblance is uncanny isn't it?

Carmen1.jpg

Carmen3.gif

After coffee we had the energy to visit Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, who carry stock of Jamieson's yarns, which we each bought to make Kate Davies' Sheep Carousel tea cosy. After a great deal of deliberation, I bought the inspired combination of black and (you guessed it) white, while Alison went for a sophisticated combination of brick red and dark brown.

ChristinasCosy.jpg

AlisonsCosy.jpg

Posted on November 2, 2012 at 11:19 AM

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Friday October 12, 2012

Alexandra Palace 2012

The main entrance exhibit at the Knitting and Stitching Show this year was dedicated to the "unfinishable" projects. Everyone has them but the underlying concept here was an interesting one: some are just in hibernation - but there are some projects that will be kept in their unfinished form with the full knowledge or even plan that they will never be finished.

The tent exterior was alive with colourful collage panels of unfinished samples.

Whilst the interior had panels in shades of white as if the colour had all bled away, creating a contemplative dream-like quality.

There was a tiny round seat in the centre - where you could sit and resolve to finish all such projects.
[Note to self: Foolish Virgins].

Once in the the show itself, there was many other wonderful and inspriting projects as usual. The knitted village was delightful - I have snapped only part of it, but I love this depiction of the shop as it was just as in the village where I was born, where the greengrocer grew many of the vegetables himself in a very orderly garden out the back.

The artistic display Jabberwocky by Ann Small and Sue Walton was absolutely lovely.

And the display in the concourse was simply beautiful. The North East Embroiderers’ Guild created more than 80 pieces of work on the theme Mining a Golden Seam to show the mining heritage of the region and its geology and resources. I was particularly taken with one major canvas and yet am ashamed to say I had to have it explained to me by a fellow visitor alongside me; ashamed because I am such an ignorant Southerner when it comes to mining, where to someone from the region this is simply commonplace.

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 7:02 PM

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Saturday September 15, 2012

Never Ending Blanks....

SocksFromBlanks1.jpg

Here is the pile of colourful offerings that we made from our first lot of blanks.
It was such fun doing the dyeing, that we all wanted another go, so I knitted up 10 more blanks on the machine; (not as bad as it sounds - the winding of the skeins and doubling the yarn that takes the time, as the tension has to be kept even). Here they all are hanging up to dry in our beautiful Indian Summer sunshine.

SockBlanks2.jpg

...despite the title, I am expecting that the project is now at an end... just a small matter of some more knitting....

Posted on September 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM

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Friday June 22, 2012

Woolfest 2012

There were some delightful exhibits this year including these 3D fabric renditions of well-known paintings; the sunflowers I thought were especially good.

VanGoghL.jpg MunchL.jpg KlimtL.jpg

I bought lots of excellent items (mostly fluff and string so I'm not documenting them in detail here). I met up with Carol and Pete Leonard again, and David Herring who supplied the missing "bits" for my wheel - so tiny I need to keep a firm hand on myself to avoid misplacing them after all that. I gave one of the exhibitors cause to giggle as I was wandering around muttering "I must not lose my washers and spring pin" - which she felt was some kind of euphemism of the same ilk as keeping my hand on my ha'penny...

I notice that Susan Crawford had a nice retro "Jubilee" book of patterns on sale (Coronation Knits) - all from the era of the coronation - charming idea. And Kate Davies ("Needled") had a lovely new pattern for a sheep tea cosy which I acquired on a commission from Alison.

CoronationKnits.jpg SheepCarousel.jpg

We came down to the Lake District yesterday, with Helen satisfying my need to visit TK Max and the outlet centre on the way. The weather had turned grim as we drove south - but I seem to have booked a rather splendid country house hotel, which puts a better complexion on things. We immediately booked into the restaurant for last night and tonight, where we found the food excellent - as was breakfast this morning.

Despite the comfort of hot baths and good food at the end of the day, I have to say, Woolfest was not such a great experience for me this year. Overall, I feel that this is a very personal experience and I am not sure that I expect that the organisers could - or should even - take any notice of my gripes.
In summary I think, I am not enjoying the fact that the event is getting bigger - I saw no need to extend the range of stallholders; the consequence seems to be to have changed the mix to include more straight knitting wools, fabrics, buttons etc - so I am seeing all the same people I usually see at Alexandra Palace. The previous exhibition area is now given over to teas and seating, and the Long Draw Spinners (to name but one exhibitor) had been banished to a small corner stall which is not appropriate to view their demonstrations. I can see the visitor numbers will inevitably increase and I am pleased for the organisers - but it had somehow lost its unique emphasis on the animals and the raw fleece and materials. [In passing the Ring several times and having a quick look in, there seemed to be no rare-breed parade this year - or I certainly missed it if there were - and all I saw was a man reading from a rather dull script to a tiny audience, where the ring had been packed out in the past.].
My other selfish whine is that I was not able to park right outside the front of the building as in past years. Now - I know - not everyone can and the increased visitor numbers and vendors mean they have to use the facilities to better suit people's real needs - it's inevitable. But to lose this privilege in conjunction with the truly awful weather - having to park in a field some distance away for the first time, walk across a swamp, through a stepped cascading river of water down to queue outside the back of the venue in the torrential rain to buy tickets - which along with the programme were drenched before we even made it inside..... an unfortunate combination. I think even their attempts to improve the toilet facilities (I admit there was always a queue) were also thwarted by the weather. And - again purely selfishly - the things they had "improved", I do not see as improvements because basically I had no issue with them in the past.
If you had asked me in advance, I was not at all concerned about the bad weather, thinking that as it is all under cover it was not really a weather-dependent event. However, starting (and continuing) the day with sopping wet feet and carrying a sopping wet kagool around (which made my purchases wet - not good for books and patterns), made a great difference to my pleasure in the day. I know there is a supposed British stiff upper lip and we're all in it together making the best of things despite the weather and so on... but it's just not fun.

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 11:56 PM

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Saturday May 19, 2012

Sock Blanks with the Guild

After all the work on the knitting machines, everyone finally got to dye their blanks. They all looked wonderful.

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This is Jennifer's blank which did not make it into the photo above. (The little sprinkles are not flaws but fixer - ready for steaming.

SockBlankJennifer1.jpg

Posted on May 19, 2012 at 10:40 PM

Comments

They look fantastic - can't wait to have a go!

Posted by: Alison on May 21, 2012 6:53 PM

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Thursday April 26, 2012

Helen and her cardi

HelensCardi.jpg

I finally handed over Helen's belated birthday present when we managed to meet at a trendy cafe in Surbiton....

[...and I also received my birthday presents which were a stunning bracelet and the book of knitted egg cosies - the latter is a bit if a risk as we can now all guess what everyone will be getting next year!]

Posted on April 26, 2012 at 6:13 PM

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Sunday April 22, 2012

Dyeing the sock blanks

Fresh from the disappointment of my needlefelt sculpting, I decided not to try and complete my efforts of yesterday but to press on with trying out the dyes for the sock blank project.

BlankDyes1.jpg

I was not too concerned about the bleeding of the colours on this first one as they all toned with what I was aiming at. For the second one, where my pattern was more exact, I could not get the brown colour I wanted by colour mixing; it's fine but not what I was aiming at. The colour bleeding separated the mix (chromotography!) as it soaked in, plus I did not make the brown section as wide as I should have for the pattern I intended,

BlankDyes2.jpg

Overall it went pretty well. The main (only) unexpected problem was when I made up the last dye solution which was the yellow, and I had a lot of difficulty in making it dissolve. In warm water it made viscous clumps, and in cold water (2nd attempt) it remained quite crystalline. I managed to dissolve it moderately well in the end after much vigorous shaking. I had no such issues with the other colours.

BlankDyes3.jpg

I also learnt that in order to mix up bright greens, oranges, browns - you do need a lot of yellow, as it is the weakest colour in the mix, and is easily overwhelmed by the darker colours. I think I will be buying some additional pre-mixed orange, and brown for our group session next month.

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 6:16 PM

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Friday April 13, 2012

One song to the tune of another.

I bought some reading glasses which came with a useful but unremarkable case. Fresh from my experiences adapting a test sampler (fair isle cushion cover) into a tablet cover - ie dead easy - I decided to convert my unappealing Giant Woolley E into a glasses case.
Voilà.

GlassesCase2.jpg

I dismembered the arms of the E, grafted them together, and felted the resulting tube. I then stitched and cut. I found a perfect scrap of cotton for the lining, - but you cannot appreciate it (at all) in the finished item.

GlassesCase1.jpg

Posted on April 13, 2012 at 11:29 AM

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Thursday April 5, 2012

Le Beau...

PetitMatelot.jpg

We dropped in on Ava and Peter to see the grandchildren who are there "en masse" for the Easter holiday (that is Jacob and Isobel). I had finished the little sailor outfit so took it with me and within minutes Jacob was wearing it. The beret - as George (who knows a thing or two) had predicted - was too small - so I was forced to perform open-hat surgery on the kitchen table using only wooden barbecue skewers. [I really find it hard to believe that there is someone who has no knitting needles whatever... made mental note to never leave home without knitting bag ever again].
Here Jacob is obligingly posing for his public with Gemma.

Posted on April 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Comments

Well the little hat looks very jaunty! I like the whole outfit.

Posted by: Alison on April 5, 2012 7:05 PM

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Sunday February 26, 2012

Unravel 2012

A few photos from Unravel in Farnham. This year my sister came along, even though this isn't really her sort of event, she enjoyed the artistry of works on display.
I was smitten with this cushion.

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Noah's Ark did not win "Best in Show" but it got our vote.

UnravelNoahsArk.jpg

In addition there was a complete farmyard on display in one of the stairwells.

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The woolley Art was not limited to the confines of the building. I thought these knitted moles erupting from the grass were very cute, (more so than the real thing I have to say).

UnravelKnittedMoles.jpg

And as usual, Well Manor Farm provided the warm-blooded woolley items. I was sorry not to see the Gotlands this year but this one with her little black lamb.... aaaah...

UnravelLamb.jpg

Posted on February 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

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Thursday August 18, 2011

Blithe

In 2006 I made Deep (a cardigan) in Rowan's Summer Tweed. The colour really suits me but I never wore Deep very much. So I am reinventing it in a new shape. It's an Aran, so knits up speedily. The pattern is by Marie Wallin from Rowan Magazine 47 and looks deceptively simple - and turned out to be a complete nightmare.
I am a pretty experienced knitter and I could not work from the chart at all. In the end I resorted to someone else's drafting of the stitch pattern (thank heavens for Ravelry for pointing me at it) - and made the rest up myself. If I look at all strained in the photo, it is because I was.

Blithe.jpg

The photo itself does not do the yarn justice as it is a wonderful turquoise colour with flecks of pink and other colours, and I had trouble deciding on the perfect buttons - I hope these are they - lovely wooden buttons with faded stripes.

BlitheButtons.jpg

For those who might need some help as I did, I have written out the pattern, in a way that I hope shows the pattern repeat and the end margins; I worked entirely from this but everyone "sees" a patten differently so not guaranteeing it will sort everyone out*. I'm afraid when you get to the increasing and decreasing you are on your own...!

* One Raveller said she "quite got into it" after a while... but I never did, having to refer to the pattern for every row.

Mermaid's Mesh

The most important fact that I missed is that you need 2 margin stitches at the beginning and end of the rows, not just one, so the pattern is worked over a multiple of 9 stitches plus 4.

The blue text shows the sts to knit at the beginning an end of each row, and the stitches enclosed between the symbols || need to be repeated until you get to the last few sts in each row.
All odd-numbered rows are purl working the "YO twice" as K1, P1.

I have used to symbol ¦ to indicate how the decreases and yarn-overs balance each other out. You need this to ensure you keep the same number of sts in the row overall. Sometimes the balanced set of sts straddle the end of one repeat and the beginning of the next - I have used dots to indicate this continuation; at the beginning an end of this type of row, there are unbalanced decreases and yarn-overs in the margins to balance the row out overall.

Row 1 K1 yo || ...ssk ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo K3tog yo ¦ yo...|| ssk K1
Row 3   || K2tog yo ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo K3tog yo || K2tog yo K2
Row 5 K1 || K2tog yo ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo K3tog yo ¦ K2tog yo || K2tog yo K1
Row 7 K2tog yo || K2tog yo ¦ yo K3togtbl yo ¦ K2tog yo ¦ K2tog yo || K2
Row 9 K1 K2tog yo || K2tog yo ¦ yo K3togtbl yo ¦ K2tog yo ¦ K2tog yo || K1
Row 11 K2tog yo || K2tog yo ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo K3togtbl yo ¦ K2tog yo || K2
Row 13 K1 K2tog || ...yo ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo K3togtbl yo ¦ K2tog...|| yo K1
Row 15 K2tog || ...yo ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo ssk ¦ yo K3tog...|| yo yo ssk

Posted on August 18, 2011 at 3:11 PM

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Saturday June 25, 2011

Woolfest 2011

Woolfest1.jpg

As usual, the animals were the stars of the show - along with their good-humoured handlers. When we first entered the building, I thought we might have to immediately leave due to Helen's being prone to asthma, but luckily she seemed to recover (we spent minimal time in the "animal" section), and we caught the Rare Breeds Parade without having to rush Helen to hospital. We tried out the new area for tea and coffee, though actually I'm less keen on this - I liked the "sit down" area with music, as it was, in the middle of the venue, with the demonstrations in this area - old stick-in-the-mud that I am - and the dancers: nice touch but basically just in the way.

Woolfest2.jpg

I managed to avoid buying a fleece - it was not too hard since almost everything was sold, as it was the second day - and I learnt afterwards that they had sold more fleeces in the first 2 hours of the event than the total sold last year. (Indicative of the increasing numbers attending, which again, selfishly, I am not too cheerful about).
Surprisingly (to me) Helen bought herself a picture felting kit, and also surprisingly, I bought some felt figures rather then a kit (!). They were a chicken for my sister, and a Sylvester-style cat for myself. Jenny Barnett was in the middle of making the latter when I purchased it, and I had to wait while she finished it off.

JennyBarnett2.jpg

She subsequently made me a second chicken (to my specification as a Croad Langshan), so I had the 2 in time for Christmas gifts.

JennyBarnett1.jpg

In the evening, we went out to the Little Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, to see Noises Off by Michael Frayn, of which I had only ever seen the film production in the past. It was pretty funny and well-observed, (although we had to sacrifice a second gourmet outing to the pubs and restaurants near our hotel!).

Posted on June 25, 2011 at 11:56 AM

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Sunday April 10, 2011

Sheep to shawl

OK - I admit - not a shawl.

FrenchHandspun.jpg

Some time ago, I was tempted by Lloyd and Marie to pick up a bundle of fleece which they had hand-clipped from the small flock (which came free with their rented house!). Heavy hints - or direct instructions - were given to produce something " a hat or scarf" as it would be much appreciated.

The fleece - although not in a complete fleece shape, but rather an untidy mixed up mess on the barn floor - was exceedingly soft in places, but unfortunately I had "help" picking it up so I got a very mixed bag. It washed to a lovely white colour, and spun up well. I was pleased to be able to make 2 hats and a scarf. The latter I did not think much of - it just used the left overs, but the hats based on my apparently popular fisherman's rib hats were pretty good.
But as is the way of things, I'm not certain that the gifts were in fact much appreciated - I think I am viewed as just a bit of an elderly eccentric and this is just what I "do". My view of myself of course is an artistic artisan in the prime of life. Like Miss jean Brodie, I had hoped my prime would last the rest of my life.

Posted on April 10, 2011 at 9:06 AM

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Sunday March 27, 2011

More birthday delights

HelensWinterCushions2.jpg

Helen dropped by on her way home from a trip to Italy, so I was able to present her with the woolly gifts. Unfortunately the cushion pads didn't turn up in time, (in case you were wondering), so she'll be collecting them on another visit.

Posted on March 27, 2011 at 8:57 AM

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Friday February 11, 2011

Hearts

HeartButtons.jpg

The Louisa Harding cardigan, Puzzle, that I knitted some time ago is supposed to have heart shaped buttons around the hem as a decoration. I had been looking for some time to find buttons that were suitable and within budget (I needed 36 of them). Suitability is hard to define but the cardigan is folksy in yarn texture and arty styling. So I cannot tell you how delighted I am that my friend Felicity went to the trouble of making me some pottery buttons, all laboriously cut out and coloured by hand. She was actually apologetic (!) that they are not all identical and that the colouring is not consistent - but those very features are what makes them so very perfect.
Thank you so much.

Puzzle.jpg

Posted on February 11, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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Friday January 28, 2011

Clapotis

AlisonsClapotisforChristina.jpg

My fantastic gift from Alison. I love it. I love the soft yarn, the colours, the shape.... I love it.

Posted on January 28, 2011 at 10:29 AM

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Thursday January 27, 2011

Toby Craftery

A new knitting group has started up on Thursdays in Redhill (at the Toby Carvery). I am keen to join in. However, the meetings are every 2 weeks - and with other commitments I seem to keep missing the dates.
It is great to see other people's projects, which are often things I am interested in but not planning to knit myself. Sort of vicarious knitting...

TobyCraftery.jpg

Posted on January 27, 2011 at 4:03 PM

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Tuesday October 19, 2010

The end of the quest

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Today I completed my Stitchcraft collection with the illusive (for me anyway) edition June 1933 - acquired from Todmorden Books. An unremarkable Stitchcraft example but very pleasing to me. The early editions featured recipes and film reviews as well as fashion and knitting:
"Everything for the Woman and her Home".

Posted on October 19, 2010 at 8:46 PM

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Saturday October 9, 2010

Knitting and Stitchery Show 2010

The fun day has come round again - this year was a first as we had to go on a Saturday. I think our conclusion was that it was more crowded and there may have been more drivers to the event as the local tube line is closed for repairs - I met one of our Guild members who had not known in advance and she had taken 3 hours to get there... Anyway no such issues for us.
This year the great theme was "renew and recycle". There was a huge display of Mors Bags in the main corridor:

AllyPallyMorsBags.jpg

I discovered Mors Bags some time ago and spent a pleasant May Bank Holiday making some out of old curtains - but what I had failed to fully realise was that the fabric was utterly degraded, and my beautiful bags shredded when washed. However, I have not given up on the idea so watch this space... Luckily many other people seem to have found more robust fabrics to recycle.

Unfortunately my camera misbehaved on the day so my photos have flaws - but these are a few of the interesting exhibits we saw. I loved this retro chair, (but I don't want to own it... in case you are thinking of themed Christmas gifts....!).

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I was also very impressed with this exhibit by artist Claire Platt - my own photo of this is so bad I have used hers from her site - take a look there for other interesting work.

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I had my own flying duck set once - not plaster I'm afraid - having been so ubiquitous (and reviled by teenagers) in my youth, they are now quite rare as plaster is so fragile. My set was the traditional 1930's green but, strangely, made of metal...
However Aran knitted versions!
Now we're talking....

This year we did not buy so very much - Sheila has taken up knitting again and purchased some bright blue yarn from Black Sheep's bargain section - I agonized over some Rowan Damask as I love knitting with it but decided to pass as I have no specific project in mind. For myself I bought some more Knitpicks (Knitpro) interchangeable needle tips - the multicoloured wood type - from Coleshill Accessories; my steel ones only go down to 3½mm and I found they are available in 3 and 3¼mm. I also found that you can get shorter ends (they are 100mm as opposed to the standard 128mm and called "special" tips in case you want to buy any). They are designed to go with shorter length wires (40cm) but I am finding them useful all round. Even with shorter old circulars I often have trouble turning in the tips as they are too long; in fact my general comment on these needles is that the length should change as the needle size increases - I have the "chunky" set in steel and 128mm is too short to handle properly in those sizes. I did think the short wires might be good for socks - but they are still too long - suitable for hats apparently; one thing they will be excellent for is the sleeves and neck on a guernsey (yes, I am still planning to knit another one day!).

I also found this lovely coat pattern (V2884), a reissue of a 1954 design.

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I decided to restrain myself and not to buy some lovely red woollen fabric from The Shuttle - but now wish I had! I did buy some fine brown linen (for a doll's dress) and crushed purple velvet (for a a bag inspired by one I saw on sale at Wisley).

My final purchase was a giant ball of Rayon string from Empress Mills. This has mystified everyone ... but I like it...

Finally - an enchanting display of tiny hats:

AllyPallyHats.jpg

Posted on October 9, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Comments

Those little hats are wonderful. Can't decide which I like more, the little top hat or the birds nest!

Posted by: Cathy in Va on December 3, 2010 1:29 AM

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Friday September 10, 2010

IKnit Weekender

I went to IKnit with Felicity

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Herdy was there selling his (her) mugs and we shared a set between us.* Felicity bought an extra ball of pink mohair wool from the Natural Fibre Company to finish her pink cardigan - started at Woolfest. I bought a ball of sock wool.

We had lunch watching a Rowan fashion show introduced by Erika Knight - and I tried on a few of the latest Fair Isle designs with Felicity's reassurance that they did not enhance the benefits that nature has bestowed on me. The afternoon was spent in a class on "Continental Knitting", which I found a lot more interesting than I had hoped - and has made me see moss stitch in a whole new light.** Our tutor was Biggan Ryd Dups - she was excellent.

* George was not amused at the addition of another mug to our cupboard - especially as it was pink so he cannot clearly identify a "his" and "hers" theme.
** Since the course I decided to practice on a sock. I know for fact that so-called continental knitting is the fastest technique and is traditionally used by Fair Isle Knitters who used to produce a sweater in a day for day-trippers to the Island, (I saw a "Look at Life" film at an impressionable age!). I got George to time me and found that although I thought I was knitting pretty fast, it took me 2 minutes to knit rounds using my usual method but a disappointing 2 minutes 50s using the new method. I guess it takes practice...

Posted on September 10, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Comments

Oh no, you're joking -- an entire sweater in a day? Was thus just with ordinary Continental or with the tucked-in-a-knitting -belt method? If it's that fast, I may have to look into getting trained in it!

Posted by: Cathy in Va on December 3, 2010 1:27 AM

I think more than one knitter worked on the "sweater in a day", and I think they did use a belt or "whisk".
I'm guessing that these souvenirs were for the well-off, as I think even in the days of my childhood they would have been relatively expensive, and thus demand from the average day-tripper would not have exceeded knitting resources.
Anyway - even with the "training" I have a way to go.....

Posted by: Christina on December 19, 2010 11:39 PM

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Saturday June 26, 2010

Back to reality.

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No I have not been there all night (note the change into traveling clothes) but could not resist spending the last hour in the garden before being picked up to travel home.
Over breakfast I met up with a fellow Woolfest attendee (no names exchanged?!) whom I had met last year at the hotel - and like me she had gone to some lengths to book it again. Talking to her made me wonder if we had attended the same event as she had seemed to see so many things I had missed; this made me resolve to attend on both days next year - there is plenty of time to spend the morning there on the second day as well as travelling home.

On the way back we dropped in at a small farm which had Shetland sheep - the owner had been unable to get her small flock sheared in time for Woolfest and was taking orders - she also related the sad (but ultimately uplifting) story of rescuing her sheep from the flooding. I think all the farmers around must have such stories.
I also amazed some very old friends in Windemere by dropping in on them at an unsociably early hour for a Saturday morning. I guess we have not met for over 20 years and they were a bit bemused but very welcoming for all that. Andy and Jeff are due to confirm their civil partnership next weekend and as this post is very late (technical issues) I am slipping in this photo of them (taken by Rob) on that memorable day.

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Unfortunately I could not stay with them for very long (Adam and Felicity occupied with coffee and cake and a long journey ahead of us).
Throughout the car journey I was knitting "Puzzle" - a chunky cardigan design by Louisa Harding for which I am using Sirdar Peru. Being chauffeur driven on such a long journey has been great for headway on the knitting - and it says a lot for Adam's smooth driving that I was able to do it.

Posted on June 26, 2010 at 10:17 PM

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Friday June 25, 2010

Woolfest 2010

I have had the usual wonderful day. My first visit was to collect my spindles from Spindlers2 (Carol and Pete Leonard).

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I spent quite some time there collecting 2 spindles and choosing some fibre; I also eyed up a delightful Turkish spindle which I lusted after for its cute size, but at 11g it was a bit too specialised for me. Afterwards, I moved on to look at the display area and bought some Yak and Silk fibre which I used with my Greensleeves "Fox" spindle during the Spin In in the evening; it is tricky to spin and probably better suited to a supported spindle, so I was pleased with my efforts.

I was immediately drawn to Deb Gillander's display of ganseys - she had lots of interesting books and stories to tell as we gossiped.

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Before the browsing started, we had two missions to complete - one was to get to the fleece sale as soon as possible so Felicity could buy some Wensleydale fleece. In fact she bought 3 fleeces including a Ouissant, which was incredibly soft but not a breed we had ever heard of. Later on we were to see one in the rare breeds parade and this explained why the fleece was only about 1Kg in weight! I was under orders not to buy any fleeces at all but finally could not resist a Gotland; I was torn between a young fleece which was very soft and smaller, and an older one which had better colour variation - I went for the latter, but I'm still not sure I made the right decision.
In the afternoon, we attended the demonstration by Sue Blacker of the Natural Fibre Company, which went into assessing wool quality on and off the sheep, the right fleece for the right purpose, and how to sort a fleece. I found it very interesting and was right in there squeezing the fleeces but Felicity was a bit more reserved - raw fleece not being to everyone's taste...!

Our second mission was to pick up tickets and hand in my pennant. I was disappointed as the pennants were not due to be hung until after closing at the end of the day - however I crept in after the show was officially closed, (during the Spin In) and took this photo of my pennant in its display position.

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I was also able to sneak a go on a Great Wheel - I have never tried it before and was pleased and surprised that it was not so difficult - I think it's all in the fibre preparation (which was not down to me!).

When I got back to the hotel, I was still enthusiastic to work with my new spindles and fibre, so I started spinning the merino and bamboo fibre using my other Spindlewood Round made from apple wood. It was a wonderful experience to be outside in such beautiful surroundings, spinning in the twilight.

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Photo album created with Web Album Generator

Posted on June 25, 2010 at 10:51 PM

Comments

I didn't see as much as this but it looks good & I'm pleased to have been part of it!

Posted by: deb gillanders on September 22, 2010 10:57 PM

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Thursday June 24, 2010

We're off

Today I made the long journey north to Woolfest. I was delighted to stay at the Derwent Bank again - and this year I had an even more wonderful room on the first floor with a prime view of the lake.

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I say "I made the journey" but in fact I had a chauffeur in the shape of Felicity's husband Adam - which was wonderful - I (and Felicity) knitted all the way up there. This meant I was able to knit my contribution to the bunting that the Woolclip are co-ordinating as a team effort to decorate the venue from year to year. Here it is lovingly displayed at the window of my room.

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I knitted a "right" side but actually the reverse may look even better with the effect of the garter stitch. I am really overly pleased with this effort as it is knitted with the first woolly efforts I spun (and dyed) to knit - Ava's Suffolk sheep making a hat, and a pair of blue socks - and now bunting.

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Later on I walked down and sat at the lake's edge and did some more (different) knitting. It is wonderfully peaceful - right in the centre of the picture is a heron, who was quietly fishing as I quietly knitted.

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Posted on June 24, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Comments

It looks so green and peaceful - I'm not sure I'd have been able to tear myself away to the actual event!

Posted by: Alison on July 11, 2010 5:33 PM

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Tuesday March 9, 2010

Finishing touch...

I completed the jacket for Sheila (from Fi Morris pattern) some time ago - and delivered it last week. However since then, Sheila has been looking at it with some frustration - wanting to wear it in this cold weather but unable to do so, as it has no buttons!

I had decided to make Yorkshire buttons but my experiments were a bit amateurish as I could not get a consistent size due to variations in tension as I was needle weaving. Anyway last weekend in C&H fabrics in Canterbury I was looking at papier-mâché beads (used for this beading technique**) and realised if I covered them instead of stuffing the buttons they would have a good shape and half the battle would be won.

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Sure enough, it worked out fine - I could measure the bead to decide how big to make my template and .... voilà.... 100% success. I bought both 1 inch and ½ inch beads, and as I suspected, once covered with a thick woolly layer, the smaller ones came out right.
They went straight into the mail.
Alas, when Sheila put them on the jacket - she did not like them. Although they are the right size for the loops, they look like clown's pom-poms! I think I may try them again, cutting the spheres in half , so they are not so prominent. Meanwhile - Sheila is off to the "Button Shop" to look for some kind of toggles that might be more acceptable.

** a href="http://froogal.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Froogal has made a couple of great necklaces - using wooden beads rather than paper ones.
Some fabric necklaces use pony beads threaded over a fabric tube in between the large beads to get the gathering effect. This means your necklace uses only one fabric and you have to choose a fairly fine fabric and have a reasonable balance between small and larger beads otherwise you won't fit the fabric tube inside the pony bead. I thought this was a fairly well-known technique but struggled to find it explained on the web. Maybe it's too simple.
I also had the idea that the buttons themselves could be used as woolly beads but they do have a "right and wrong side" as it were, so you would have to overcome that in your design. Anyway - love those Froogal versions....!

Posted on March 9, 2010 at 12:50 PM

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Wednesday March 3, 2010

Icelandic Shawl: complete

Finally complete - blocked and ready to go...

IcelandicShawl1.jpg

It's much smaller than I expected (or intended in the pattern) and I can't really work out why - my tension knits the same as the yarn suggested - however I used a lot less yardage than the pattern said. I thought I must have missed out a complete pattern or something, but I cannot detect that I have. One other person on Ravelry complains that it has come out small - but other have photos of clearly larger shawls.

As it was I undid the centre section twice to make it bigger - the first time I used larger needles - the second time I increased the stitches considerably before starting the blackberry stitch (as it the stitch tends to tighten the work) and used larger needles .

Anyway - I think the result is pretty satisfying

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Posted on March 3, 2010 at 1:50 PM

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Sunday February 28, 2010

Books in February

All knitting books this month - not doing well with reading. I did make an attempt at Eat, Pray, Love - lent by my sister, though she was not very smitten by the book but, like me (and, I presume, all women), recognised some of the scenarios. I could not read more than a chapter or two as I was not very interested in the author or what happened to her. Read the Wikipedia entry where it quotes the New York Times critic descibing it as "narcissistic New Age reading" - which about sums it up for me.

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  • Debbie Bliss magazine (issue 4) by Debbie Bliss
    Another lovely magazine from Debbie Bliss. I have not felt so smitten by the designs in this issue - but maybe I am not so keen on casual summer knitwear in general. However, it is a whole "lifestyle" magazine with knitted soft furnishings, and even recipes - in the true Stitchcraft magazine tradition! I love the insights into Debbie's inspirations, and her book (and other) collections.

  • Rowan47.jpg Rowan Magazine 47 edited by Marie Wallin
    As you know I am committed to the Rowan canon and this is another excellent magazine from the brand. Again, I am rushing off to buy the wool - which may, be as above, that I am less smitten by summer styles, or it may be that I already have a lot of outstanding UFOs. I have only recently knitted one of the winter offerings - I find my style influences tend to be a couple of years behind the times - takes a while for me to get used to new trends! Of these designs I did like Brighton (from new designers I think) and Tourquay the theme here being the ice cream colours used assymetrically.

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  • 500 Handmade Dolls: Modern Explorations of the Human Form (500 Series) Lark Books

    A weird and wonderful book of art dolls - a sort of Mervyn Peake world in 3-D miniature. Needless to say, this delightful book was found for me by Robert, who has a knack for turning up the unusual.

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 10:04 AM

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Saturday February 27, 2010

Unravel

This weekend was occupied with Unravel at the Maltings in Farnham. unravel.jpg

My objective for the day was to avoid buying yarn in favour of perhaps finding some high quality fibre to spin. In the event, resisting the yarn was hard, and there were some lovely fibres at for example Fiberspates- but nothing appealed sufficiently to justify the expense. I did buy a small amount of natural mohair from New Forest Mohair, (to blend with my existing fleeces as recommended throughout the book A Fine Fleece).

It was notable that there were quite a few button vendors of varying types: some with with very original unique handmade buttons, Dixie Nichols with her Father's vintage glass buttons, and the Textile Garden with their selection of excellent value items. I bought buttons from the latter for a Louisa Harding cardigan which demands 36 buttons as decoration (so potentially an expensive project).

Tessa Wolfe Murray was demonstrating making her smoke-fired ceramic buttons - as well as selling them. Many vendors offered interesting demonstations of their wares for weaving and spinning, and of course the exhibitors included the local Guilds (in the cellars!). I visited Fi Morris there, and met Linda Newington who is the Head Librarian at Winchester School of Art. It seems they have a pattern archive with major donations from the collections of Richard Rutt (author of A HIstory of Hand Knitting, and Jane Waller - so I have found somewhere to bequeathe my modest collection in the future! Linda was giving a talk later in the day, but I did not stay long enough to see her - in fact I wish I had checked out the talks and workshops beforehand as I didn't really plan properly to see items I would have found very interesting - on Sunday Susan Crawford (who collaborated with Jane Waller on the Stitch in Time project) was giving 2 talks, one on Knitted Fashions from 1939-1949 which I would have loved to attend.

As I left, I had a chat with the sheep I had seen arriving at the same time as I did in the morning. They were very unwilling to get out of their cosy transporter and into their tiny show-pen in the rain. However the weather was more cheerful later on, and I found they were very user-oriented sheep - ashamed to say I have no idea of the breed though they may have been Gotlands (who I know are very friendly). I suspect they were from Well Manor Farm - I was tempted to buy some lovely grey fleece from them, but it was in its "natural" condition - and I already have too much fleece like that.....!

Throughout my time there I cursed not having taken my camera - hence this is mainly descriptive.

Posted on February 27, 2010 at 9:10 PM

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Sunday February 21, 2010

Yorkshire Buttons

Yesterday we had a "show and tell" at the Guild meeting. There were a good number of members in attendance, and I was quite mesmerized by other people's work - the variety was quite surprising, given that there was no pre-planning, (well - variety within the context of fibre-related arts and crafts...).

Mavis showed us her latest free-form jackets from her handspun. As she talks about the fibres, she relates each little section to her own rabbits and animals, which is particularly charming. Her jackets are finished with "Yorkshire buttons" which caused much interest and comment.

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Dorset buttons are a fairly well-known technique, but Yorkshire less so it seems. I was inspired to go straight home and try them out - one from memory of what she said, (on the left), and a second, (on the right), from these useful web instructions for Yorkshire buttons where you can also find Dorset buttons.

There were quite a few knitting projects, and mostly from member's own handspun. Claire came with her new birthday wheel (Kromski), and an astonishing amount of completed spinning projects - which would be fine if it were representing her whole year's work, but was in fact "just what she happened to have with her..."). Her man was able to give me a few website-related tips for our own (new) Guild website.

Posted on February 21, 2010 at 7:11 AM

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Sunday January 31, 2010

Books in January

No fiction again this month. I have been listening to podcasts of the BBC series The History of the World in 100 Objects, which in itself is a fascinating project even without the series - and by the way - isn't it curious to choose to "display" objects in this way on the radio? But then - I think that is part of the point - see them on line and at the British Museum.

  • Respect the Spindle Abby Franquemont
    RespectTheSpindle.jpg All my spinning books start with some elementary spindle information, but I never found it very interesting - it bore little relation to the act of using a spindle I felt. I included this book on my wishlist, as I don't have a book on this topic and I thought - why not?. I have my new (decorative only?) spindle from Woolfest - so I felt I could invest a little more in the knowledge. I certainly had no intention of "going into" spindle spinning in preference to the wheel. But...
    This is really is one of the most interesting books I have read. The author really made me understand - and believe - that the spindle is a better and faster tool for spinning certain types of thread. It is not an accident or lack of technology that prevented ancient peoples developing the wheel, but appropriate choice for the job in hand. She also discusses the physics of spindles - which is fascinating for me - and made me think I might actually start to see the point of angles of momentum, and moments of inertia in a way that I did not when at school - no-one ever discussed spindles at that time, or it might all have been different.
    It also indicates that my apparently random choice of spinning my little bag of alpaca on my fancy spindle might just have been a sound one after all.

  • The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook Tarek Malouf
    HummingbirdCookbook.jpg Tony recommended this American cup cake recipe book from the Hummingbird Bakery. So it became another wishlist item, along with a set of reusable silicon cake cases. Now I simply want to make all the cakes at once, they sound so good, (though I shall be making fairy cakes not cup cakes of course...!).
    I like the recipes as they are not simply plain cakes with inventive decorations but actually different flavoured cakes and toppings. The decorations are relatively restrained - but I am sure you can use your own initiative on that score. The only snag I see now is that I need a food mixer (or jolly strong arms) - Tony acquired mixer and book together I think. Not sure if I am ready for a new gadget... maybe... George and I did get out his juice extractor to make the clementine and cranberry marmalade....
    Anyway - "Yum's the word".

  • Rôtis Stéphane Reynaud
    Rotis.jpg This was a surprise gift, and though I am always pleased with a cookbook, I did think it was odd to have a book all about roast dinners. I imagined each recipe must read: heat up oven, put in large joint of meat, take out joint of meat, carve, eat.
    Well... there we are - I was quite wrong. This is a book of "every day" roasts and includes pot roasts - which are almost stews - and is not restricted to meat and poultry but includes fish - and veg.
    The layout appeals to me as well - each dish wonderfully photographed; this stems from my first and still favourite cookery book today - the Good Housekeeping Picture Cookery Book from the 70s - which has pictures. A trained chef friend of mine always scorned my love of pictures in cookery books - but it really does help if you have never seen the dish before. A German friend once produced some little cakes with a big flourish saying "no need to tell you what these are!" - but I had no idea - I was racking my brains for a well known English cake - they looked like brioche - anyway they turned out to be scones, and they were delicious... just... different. A schoolfriend once entered a competition for "rock cakes" but hers were in little cake cases and looked like fruited queen cakes - she was quite amazed to see everyone else's untidy little piles of cake.
    Back to the roasts - "yum" again.

Posted on January 31, 2010 at 12:53 PM

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Tuesday January 26, 2010

Project 365

Tony has started a new project for 2010 - Photo365 (clue's in the name) -

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- and has featured some birthday mittens I made for Cathy.

Posted on January 26, 2010 at 6:24 PM

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Sunday January 24, 2010

Sandown Show

I spent Saturday and part of Sunday on our Guild stand at the Stitch & Creative Craft Show at Sandown. Amazingly (to me) I was demonstrating spinning on a drop spindle and on a wheel. The wheel was Sandy's Ashford Joy, and it was lots of fun to be allowed free rein on a different model.

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I managed to tour the show as well, and purchased some little items - some more patterns from Fi Morris (who had some great new designs), some large ceramic beads, a bit of glitter (more of that in a POM when I get round to it), a Vogue dress pattern, and - some delicious Welsh cheese!

In honour of dressing credibly as a knitter for the show, I finally wore my Debbie Bliss Astrakhan cardigan (which I first started working on in 2007, I think). It was warm and easy to wear - the wool is lovely and soft - and I am pleased with how it looks.

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Posted on January 24, 2010 at 7:42 PM

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Thursday January 14, 2010

Hand of Good

Do you have those days when a few stray elements randomly coalesce?
This is one of those days for me.

handofgood.jpg Last March when I was in Worcester with my old school friends, George and I visited the City Museum where there was an Crafts Council touring exhibition called Deviants "Peer Into the Subversive World of Craft". I was fascinated by it (and I took some pictures but did not publish as I suspected the artists might not be too happy without permission). Of particular interest to me was an exhibit called "Hand of Good, Hand of God" by Freddie Robins - a kind of fractal knitted glove.

ConradGloves.jpg
I would not have remembered any of this, but that today, I ran across Knit a Work of Art from a Free Pattern at the V&A site, which is Conrad - gloves by Freddie Robins. This immediately reminded me of the exhibition and spurred me to look up Freddie's site (wwww = wonderful world wide web) and confirm she was indeed the artist whose work I had seen in Worcester.

Even more pleasing is that these gloves are inspired by a poem in Struwwelpeter - a 19th century German book of cautionary tales for children (!). This book so fascinated me that I bought a modern fac simile of it when I was in Germany. This tale is of Konrad der Daumenlutscher whose thumbs were removed by the tailor's big scissors - a true horror including fantastic onomatopoeia in the wonderful German language ["jetzt geht es klipp und klapp, mit der Scher' die Daumen ab"], and graphic illustrations.

DerSchneider.jpg

Coalescence - it's very satisfying when it happens.

Posted on January 14, 2010 at 9:41 AM

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Friday October 9, 2009

Knitting and Stitchery Show 2009

This year the main exhibit in the Alexandra Palace entrance hall was the impressive: "Casting Off...A Coat for a Boat!".

CastingOffS.jpg

Textile designer Ingrid Wagner was lead artist and on this amazing community project which was created with the help of contributors hailing from the North East region as well as internationally, and with the support of The North East Maritime Trust.

Every section of the boat exhibit provided fascinating detailed works of knitted art.

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All the poor little fish caught in the nets - though they look cheerful enough about it!

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And spot the rats leaving the (hopefully not!) sinking ship.

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Fewer photos overall than in previous years indicates how interesting it all was and how busy we were looking around.
I would have liked to take photos of some of the artist's work but of course that was mostly prohibited. I did enjoy one artist who made delightful fine ceramic mugs, jugs and other items, which looked as though they were made of paper, and charmingly painted with floral (and other) designs. Hard to describe without a photo! However, she had already sold all her stock on only Day 2 of the show.

My first item on the agenda for the day was to hand in my completed Macmillan Blanket at the Knitter Magazine stand. That done we were free to roam, observe and buy!

As to our purchases: we saw Fi Morris and Sheila was very smitten with one of her patterns; we had to order the (discontinued) Wendy wool for it when we got home. I am very glad I did Fi's workshop to understand her specialist techniques for when I get round to knitting it! I bought some bargain Sirdar Peru and Patons Misty - yet more cardigans; some lovely beads for Christmas gift necklaces; some earring attachments to supplement my Alison-made stitch markers (I use them all the time and never have enough); and Italian sock wool for... never you mind what.

Posted on October 9, 2009 at 11:49 PM

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Saturday September 19, 2009

Domino Workshop

The final workshop of the year was on Domino knitting. A name, so we are told, apparently chosen at random. More aptly called patchwork knitting, it uses a technique of increasing and decreasing to knit little squares, and then cunningly picking up stitches, so that you avoid all seaming - brilliant.
Our tutor was Fiona Morris, seen here modeling her Domino waistcoat.

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We were aiming at producing a cushion cover, (in the foreground of the photo). Fiona has made this one using a variety of samples from a natural dye study.

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Here is my sample effort.

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I have previously made Vicki Sever's "Heart Sachet" which is based on this technique, and Fiona also had examples of little baby bootees - all shaped from squares, joined together with no sewing.

Posted on September 19, 2009 at 8:28 PM

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Friday September 11, 2009

I Knit London Weekender

IKnit.jpg

After meeting with a client in London, I went to the I Knit Weekender.

There was a lot to look at - not a huge venue but that made it quite relaxing. The vendors were high quality and more focused (on knitting and fibre) than at Ally Pally. I was delighted to see Jane Waller's vintage book "A Stitch in Time" had its own display on the Arbour House stand. I spent some time chatting to the people there and checking out the vintage knitting examples on show.

IKnit-ArbourHouse.jpg

I bought one or two items and was very pleased with myself as they are all things I need - maybe! - bargain sock wool for Terry's what-is-now-traditional Christmas socks, "Herdy" mugs** (one for me, and others for gifts), and a bargain skein of silk/mohair from Knitwitches. It was great to see the Nichols button collection in the flesh - though I could not persuade myself to buy any right there and then (no suitable current projects); I did however find an excellent button seller - Textile Garden - really nice people and really nice-looking buttons that did not break the bank - and I bought a couple of sets of buttons for my cardigan projects, plus some that I simply "liked" to send to Alison.
I also bought a pattern for a remembrance day poppy - proceeds to the poppy fund. I thought this was an excellent idea but I can't see myself using it on the day - have to keep explaining to people that although it does not look much like a memorial poppy, it was sold in aid of the fund.

As well as things to buy there were fashion shows, workshops, and opportunities to meet other knitters over a nice cup of tea (and a sit down).

I-Knit-London-Panorama.jpg

** At the show they had Herdy piggy banks, which were very appealing, and I see that I Knit now have a limited edition version available in yellow.

Posted on September 11, 2009 at 7:40 PM

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Wednesday September 2, 2009

Just a Lightweight

MansPinkCardigan.jpgMore on G's light-weight cardigan request and the "irresistible man's cardigan from the 1970s" (shown on the right - I left the moustache in the pattern picture just to demonstrate the gender of the model, but I now realise this is simply more gender stereotyping for which I profoundly apologise). You can see the charm of the original colour - disturbingly, I think I have some of the correct brand of wool in that exact colour in the attic - however after a great deal of thought (about 1 nanosecond) I settled on a light grey instead.

I finished the patterned part of the knitting on holiday in Norfolk and easily completed the main sections on the newly refurbished knitting machine. I took it all the pieces with me to France to hand-knit the button bands, and then sew it all up.

MansGreyCardigan1.jpg

At last it was done, and George was finally able to wear it in France (my! - he's so handsome!) - although there are not really any summer evenings any more. They seemed to stop around mid-August.

MansGreyCardigan2.jpg

[In case you are wondering, he is trying to emulate the spirit of the era using what little he remembers of the 1970s, along with the guileless expression of the model in the pattern.]

Posted on September 2, 2009 at 9:42 AM

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Tuesday August 25, 2009

A "Whatever" Day

Janet from the Guild invited everyone for a spinning, knitting, or whatever day at her house. I say her "house" but we were meeting in her greenhouse - in a moment you will see why that is not as odd as it sounds. My sister came along too - but with great trepidation in case someone tried to make her do some kind of fibre craft. However, she was there to investigate animal husbandry. Specifically Janets "boys" - who were very pleased to come and meet us.

JanetsBoys1.jpg

Alpacas look very cuddly but sadly do not like to be touched at all. But they are very friendly - especially if you have a few bits of carrot and apple about your person. They also tend to nibble each other (and humans) affectionately.

JanetsBoys2.jpg

Janet's greenhouse is in truth a huge conservatory. It's a massive Victorian construction, as her property is part of an old estate - her house being the "gardener's cottage". [Not so much a cottage though - but rather a house, emphasising the status of the man who managed a team of gardeners on the estate.]
We had a lovely day sitting spinning among the exotic plants - as well as the less exotic cucumbers, and courgettes. I was lucky enough to be given some wonderful courgettes to take home at the end of the day.

JanetsGreenhouse.jpg

Posted on August 25, 2009 at 8:02 PM

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Thursday August 13, 2009

An old friend

I took lots of knitting on my holidays - that is lots to knit but not lots of projects. One was my Debbie Bliss summer wrap - which I duly completed. The other was a cardigan for George.
For some time I had been planning this item - ever since last summer when he said he wanted a lighter weight jumper to put on at the end of hot days in France. So I decided it should be practical and not too precious, - but still look good. I chose the ever-practical fine Phildar Luxe (almost a 3ply) from my stash and selected an irresistible man's cardigan from the 1970s (what were they thinking?!).

The lower part of the cardigan is patterned with a twisted rib section but the rest - including the sleeves - is plain. There was a good deal of peaceful time for knitting, so by the end of the holiday I had finished the patterned sections. This meant there was nothing for it but to execute the second part of the plan.
Plan B was to use a knitting machine to complete all the stocking stitch knitting in that very fine wool. So now I have to confess - I do in fact already own a knitting machine.

In about 1981, and at great expense at that time, I purchased a second hand Toyota machine in Watford where Rob was working. I used it a lot in the 1980s - my favourite yarn was a light weight double knitting by Phildar (Pronostic). Rob still has much striped knitwear from this era (!). In all the years since, the machine has been loaned out, been through a number of house moves, and been deserted in the wet environments of various cellars and garages. In all that time I have been too frightened to open the case and come to terms with the results of my neglect. But now is the hour.

KnittingMachine.jpg

The great reveal showed it had stood up to all this very well - but every single needle was rusty and needed replacing. Since these are user-replaceable parts, this was not such a disaster on the face of it - though maybe a slight economic disaster. I searched on the web and to my amazement found the most wonderful shop (which seems to be not only the perfect shop but the only shop): Bedford Sewing and Knitting (or BSK), and they were able to sell me needles for my model of machine - amazing when you think that this was a already a second hand machine almost 30 years ago. I ordered 200 needles from them - and they even offered additional advice on my project - but more of that in a moment.

So - heartened - I took all the casing to pieces as much as I could...

KnittingMachine2.jpg

... and cleaned all the parts, washing all the plastic elements with soapy water and oiling all the metal parts. I took photos as I went to try and ensure I knew how to put it all back together again, and carefully preserved each screw and bolt with notes on its origin (I have done this kind of thing before ...). My needles arrived and I put everything back together.

The advice from BSK was that I should check that the "needle retaining bar was not worn" as this makes the needles stick. Until I came to replace the needles I had no idea what a retaining bar was - and even when my machine was all back together, but not quite working properly, it took me some time to relate the symptoms of my problems with the helpful advice from BSK. But I had no idea what the bar was supposed to look like - only when I looked on the web did I realise quite how bad mine was (you mean there's supposed to be sponge in there?!). Surprisingly, I found quite detailed advice about "refurbishing the sponge bar", and so I did it - had to make a few adjustments to work with the raw materials I could get hold of in the UK, but now it all seems to work fine - in fact, rather better than it ever did as far as I can remember.

I know I should finish with a splendid photo of it looking all shiny and lovely - but that will have to wait for another occasion - George (who never before realised I owned such an item was quite put out when he saw it - thought aliens had landed in the kitchen).

Posted on August 13, 2009 at 6:50 PM

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Saturday June 20, 2009

Straw into gold

Alison went on a retreat today - and I went to a Creative Fibres meeting - so we were united in spending the day spinning, and probably spinning the same fleece too - albeit separated by 8 hours in time. However, before I set off, the postman delivered the most beautiful gift from Alison...

...which is an Ishbel Shawl - and I had no idea she was making it for me - see the details here.
Isn't it wonderful? it is so soft and lovely - such a beautiful colour!

So to explain her entry where she says "in thanks for the fleece she prepared for me" - take note that I sent Alison this:

... and magically I got a wonderful silky bamboo shawl in return.

I am not sure how she did it - but now all my spinning friends want to send her their old fleeces, hoping she can effect the same transformation. I'm not sure that's how she did it, though....
[... and have they even read Rumplestiltskin? - there's always a price....]

Posted on June 20, 2009 at 11:07 AM

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Sunday May 31, 2009

Books in May

Good value books and magazines with fresh wearable styles for the summer.

  • Debbie Bliss magazine (issue 2) by Debbie Bliss
    DebbieBliss2.jpg This is an excellent value magazine - it has a lot of great patterns and it's about a third of the price of most pattern books. But never mind the width - this magazine has high quality too. It is a magazine in the true sense of the word with many really good knitting articles, not just feature padding, and lots of ideas and information about Debbie's own inspirations over the years. I found it a very interesting read.
    Some of the patterns have appeared before in other collections - or at least I noticed one specifically - but this is a magazine not a "new pattern" book. Added to which, Debbie Bliss creations are so very wearable and if not timeless, certainly time resistant, which is what you want if you have put your heart into a knitting project. It's a shame I did not spot issue 1 of the magazine as it briefly hit the shops and then sold out - but I'm not keen to rectify this oversight by paying £20 for it now on eBay! I noticed that it is pretty clearly aimed at the American as well as the UK market - maybe that's why we sold out so quickly here...

  • Deco and Nouveau by Louisa Harding
    Nouveau.jpg Deco.jpg These are great books with very fresh and stylish presentation. I looked at them initially because the Debbie Bliss magazine had an article on Louisa and a pattern for one of her bags (which is lots of fun and just what I would knit if only I had the time....). The stitch patterns are nicely complicated and very pretty. It is great to find some designs with pretty patterns which change throughout the design adding to the shape as an inherent part of it.
    The yarns are Louisa's own which basically translate to a double knitting, or an Aran. I have already started knitting the cardigan Anouk from Nouveau - and although Louisa's own yarns are lovely, I am using the ivory colour in Rowan bamboo yarn as I loved knitting it so much for the POM summer cardigan last year; the bamboo is a little finer than the specified yarn so I am having to make a few adjustments in the size. In fact, that would be my only comment - for summer designs I would favour a finer yarn - however, the benefit is they knit up quickly.

Posted on May 31, 2009 at 7:16 PM

Comments

Sometimes, one is lucky enough to have friends who get you the books that they like so much - Thanks!

Posted by: Alison on June 2, 2009 6:37 AM

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Tuesday May 12, 2009

Traffic Light Socks

I have finished the latest weird and wonderful socks made from my attempt to create something brighter when working with Kool Aid. I think we can all agree I succeeded on the bright.

Here's the fleece and the skeins:

I allowed the socks to knit up randomly, but I did make some changes to sock 2 to try and make it similar to, if not match, sock 1. Also I broke the yarn to exclude the areas that were in plain green, as they turned out positively luminous. In fact the two-ply contrasting colours generally work much better in this sock that any of the single coloured plies.

If you are worried about George wearing such weird socks, I can show them lounging casually on the sofa, where the part of the socks which is on normal display turns out to have a pleasing autumnal feel.

[George says they are not "Traffic Light" Socks as they are nothing like the colours of traffic lights. This is true - I was thinking 'red, amber, green' - however, I was also thinking maybe they were socks which would stop the traffic.]

Posted on May 12, 2009 at 10:42 PM

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Monday April 13, 2009

Kool Socks

The knitted socks have proved yet another surprise in colour variation. The knitting has pooled the colours more than they were in the skein (which was more my intention when spinning the yarn) and so the colour variation is more noticeable and less blandly grey. Lloyd says they are very New Age, (and I suppose he should know - and I am taking that as a compliment).

The colour is still very suitable for traditional mens socks (which is Good), whilst having a subtley wild air due to the pink.

I swatched the yarn and achieved 28sts to 4 inches using finer needles than usual. The yarn is not really as fine as a 4 ply weight, so knitting to this tension has produced a dense fabric. Some of the socks I have knitted in the past seem to have been a bit loose, so as well as using finer needles, I reduced the number of stitches for these socks. George likes these denser close fitting socks, which stay firmly on his feet "even in Wellingtons".

Posted on April 13, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Comments

I think this blend of colours is rather sophisticated. Better a more marled muted colour than overt stripes which might have been rather 1980s.

Posted by: Alison on April 16, 2009 4:55 PM

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Sunday April 5, 2009

Llama

I finally finished spinning the last of the llama fleece my sister gave me - the cream colour. I have finally chosen something to knit from it - based on my sister's expressed wish that I "knit myself a nice scarf or something", and finding a pattern shown in similar colours in my "Fine Fleece" book.

I did start with the main colour in brown and the contrast in cream, (this was the colour option shown in the book), but this did not work out, so I started again. The brown was the first bag of llama that I tackled and I spun it into a thicker yarn than the cream; the pattern itself has a different quality of yarn for the contrast stripes - a mohair - which I thought may have been thicker than the main, and my hunch paid off as the result with the yarns swapped is quite good.
In knitting with this - the first and the last colour I spun - I find my spinning and plying has improved a little. The cream colour is pretty acceptable on the whole.

Posted on April 5, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Comments

Is your mama a llama?... uh oh wrong blog...the scarf looks lovely and from this distance (6000 miles) it looks just like a good commercial yarn (which I mean as a compliment).

Posted by: Alison on April 16, 2009 4:52 PM

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Wednesday April 1, 2009

Stitch in Time

StitchinTime.jpgI have been waiting for some months to feature this book, as I wanted to keep it as a secret gift for Alison's birthday. The waiting has been hard - but is now finally over (Happy Birthday Alison). It is such a wonderful book but as usual my skill with words is not sufficient for me to describe how much I like it. It has obvious appeal to me, of course, but who could fail to be entranced by its beautiful production and styling?

The book was first printed in 1972, but in a very different form. I purchased the original in a 1980s reprinted edition. This did contain the basic same material, but with only a few colour prints showing some of the patterns reknitted in contemporary yarns. Subsequently - and lucky for us - the plates for this edition were lost which has led to the entire book being revamped with all the designs not only being reproduced as per the originals, but with the patterns redrafted to include modern instructions and yarn information. All the designs are knitted up and beautifully photographed. I particularly love that the knitters are also individually credited for their work in the book.

From my original book, I always liked this design for a Sun-Ray jumper from Woman and Home 1936.

SITsunray1.jpg SITsunray3.jpg

As all the original patterns were published with black and white photos the imagination was fired by the descriptions in the text. The yarn colour names were intended to be evocative of actual colours ("Lipstick Red"), rather than the current trend for yarns and colours with names that inspire an emotion ("Rustic", "Tickle", "Calm"). This pattern came with the following Helpful Fashion Advice on colour co-ordination:
"If you'd like it in Blue - choose a pottery blue with yellow buttons. Wear a buttercup-yellow woollen skirt. A yellow belt, Blue and yellow bracelets."
"If you'd like it in Pink - choose a coral with white buttons. Wear a two-piece of heavy natural tussore*. A matching coral-pink hat trimmed with white petersham ribbon. White shoes and handbag. Wear coral-pink gloves of fine suede" (* Tussore is a coarse brownish silk produced from a tussore moth Antheraea paphia).
"If you'd like it in White - choose glass buttons for the yoke. Wear a white linen tweed skirt. A matching linen hat trimmed with dark green ribbon. White court shoes with green leather trimming. Dark green gloves. Carry a green and white handbag."(sic)

Here is an example of the pages from the new edition - restyled with modern instructions, and reknitted in contemporary yarn, with great colour photos - all printed alongside the original black and white pattern, quoting the source and the year.

SITsunray2.jpg

Please feel free to offer your own fashion advice in the comments, starting "If you'd like it in Red...".

If your interests are anything like my own - do buy this book. Even if you feel you will never knit these designs, it is a lovely book to own, crammed with historical design interest from the period.

I note it is called: "Volume 1 - 1920-1949", so I am hoping the book is a success and we can look forward to a Volume 2. If this kind of book does interest you, then you may like to look at Jane Waller's Knitting Fashions of the 1940s: Styles, Patterns and History which, like Stitch in Time is also available from Amazon. (And "no - I don't have any shares in these publications"!).

Posted on April 1, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Comments

I can vouch for the fact that this is a lovely book. I also really liked this sun-ray sweater, as well as one from the 1920s which I was keen on until I realized it was mostly crochet. Thank you for my lovely birthday present.

Posted by: Alison on April 2, 2009 7:42 PM

What I really want are those "coral-pink gloves of fine suede" to wear with the pink one! Really, I wouldn't mind seeing more hats and gloves worn again -- more scope for expressing our sartorial creativity. :)

By the way, the Ribbed Cardigan you made from the Rowan men's book looks terrific. Nice job!

Posted by: yarnstruck on April 4, 2009 5:10 AM

Thanks on the ribbed cardigan - more important than how it looks to the objective eye is that he seems to be wearing it all the time - and it has stopped coming back for minor alterations. I think the yarn is a bit stretchy and subject to pilling - but that's because it's a lovely soft wool with some cashmere. Probably the perfect cardigan for George would be a superwash acrylic (my next next project..).

Posted by: Christina on April 4, 2009 9:46 AM

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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

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Thursday March 12, 2009

Printemps

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

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Saturday February 28, 2009

I'm with you in spirit

It's "Stitches West 2009" - and here is my friend greeting me - wearing her lovely Loppem...
and standing in front of a bunch of socks... perfick.

Really wish I could have been there too...

Posted on February 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Comments

I wish you had been there too. I had a lovely time but wimped out and left by about 2:30...shattered and spent up! I may have a small gift for you from Stitches :-)

Posted by: Alison on March 1, 2009 6:50 AM

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Thursday January 15, 2009

Wondrous strange....

I had a lovely Christmas with lots of great presents, but I had to show this one as it seems to me to be all that a gift should be. George's Mother found it in a charity shop and wasn't sure what it was - isn't it great?

SkeinWinder.jpg

As I opened it I thought it was a charka wheel - but I think I've got the right idea now. Loads of bits that all fit onto the nice little drawer at the front.
[I think there might be a couple of bits missing but it seems to work as is.]

SkeinWinder2.jpg

I wanted to show a picture of it "in action", but the pegs only expand out to accommodate a 40 inch skein and the ones I have to hand are somewhat longer. However, with my Father-George patented Niddy Noddy, I hope to be able to use it with my own hand-spun skeins in the future.

Posted on January 15, 2009 at 7:08 PM

Comments

What a fascinating little device! So, do I understand correctly that it's a skein winder that you operate by cranking the little wheel with your hand? It's a lovely present, that's for sure. :)

Posted by: Cathy on January 30, 2009 3:43 AM

Yes, that's how it works. It is the bobbin part that the wool winds on to that I am not sure about - I need a small skein to try it....

Posted by: Christina on January 30, 2009 8:42 AM

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Monday December 22, 2008

Relaxing (or: another go at the apples).

Now the pressure is firmly off finishing any last minute knitted gifts due to lack of raw materials - I can relax in the knowledge that extra wool is at least on the way. So I made some mince pies.

MincePies.jpg

To use up more apples, I had already made a small amount of mincemeat - which to reassure you Americans - especially those with jobs in US customs - there is absolutely no meat in mincemeat - but there are apples. The mincemeat recipe is from Delia (but I was given a similar one at school). The pastry and mincemeat construction is from my Jocelyn Dimbleby Christmas Book - as before. The pastry is a very buttery mixture, not the usual half and half, making it very short (12oz butter to 16oz flour or that proportion in whatever units you like) and it is a sweet pastry - so you have about 3oz of sugar in there as well - and she adds zest and juice of orange to mix. The final secret ingredient is that as you build each pie you not only put a teaspoon of mincemeat in each one but also a dab of cream cheese before putting the top on.

Due to the unexpected missing knitted gift for... someone..., I went (unsuccessfully) last minute late-night shopping in Kingston. I may have just popped into the local John Lewis branch - and bought some Rowan Big Wool to knit a gift for my friend Helen. I have already sent her the Interweave Knits Dumpling Bag for Christmas - so hope she will not be too tired of my little woolly offerings. I bought the whole project on a whim, along with yet another book by Kim Hargreaves Amber. The pattern is for a little cape called Charity, (as in "cold as charity" maybe).

Posted on December 22, 2008 at 7:13 PM

Comments

Mmmm those Jocelyn Dimbleby mince pies always tasted so good. I might try to cream cheese option again - but Im afraid these days my pastry is almost always Safeway pre-made pie crust!

Posted by: Alison on December 30, 2008 9:52 PM

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Sunday December 21, 2008

Gold Star Service

So the panic flurry of finishing off Christmas gifts was in full flood when....

OutofWool.jpg

So the question was - could I get delivery in time to carry on and finish before the big day? To this end, late Friday night I submitted my request to my "LYS" - which is local to where I lived as a kid, and I buy from them on-line as they still have shop premises, which I like to support (nothing quite like feeling and touching...). To my horror, on Saturday the store called to say they no longer had my dye lot! (Full marks to them for a speedy response of course...)
This I did not expect, and the panic shifted from 'could I get delivery on time' to 'could I get delivery at all, ever'?
I then started to call all my LYSs (local to where I live now) - more in hope than expectation - but no luck - and even worse it was clear that this was an early dye lot - no-one had anything near. After I had thrown the net as wide as I could within the context of the word 'locaI' I then started to call shops listed at the back of the latest Rowan book, in alphabetical order starting at "A". Many of the local yarn stores had completely closed for the holidays, and by this time it was after 5pm so I was restricting my call to John Lewis branches which were opening late. I finally got (almost impossibly) lucky at "C" Cambridge where "Jenny" pulled out the whole display and found me what I needed. So I would like to offer my special thanks to her and all the JL departments I called. Plus, I would congratulate JL on maintaining a cheerful and consistent method of managing all calls, and producing members of staff willing to go and check their shelves, with great good humour, on what must be the busiest Saturday of the year. Sadly, although everyone helped me, I did not get such a pleasant response from all the privately-owned stores I called.

Every time this happens I swear I will never do it again - and then somehow I forget.

Posted on December 21, 2008 at 3:10 PM

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Friday October 10, 2008

Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitchery Show 2008

This entry is a little late but here we are at last at the Knitting and Stitchery Show.

Me.jpg

The entrance exhibit this year was a knitted coral reef that everyone could contribute to - you could knit something while you were there and hand it in to be added to the "organic" entity.

CoralReef1.jpg

Here's my attempt to capture the whole reef - there's a popup to try and give you a better idea - but it was really lovely - showing both skill and artistry.

Our first item of the day was a "fusing fabric" workshop, which involves burning translucent coloured synthetics to make patchwork "art", using soldering irons. I enjoyed it a lot - not sure I will be investing in a new craft but I may join Sheila one day and have another go using her equipment.

FusedFabric.jpg

Then we were off to visit our favourite stalls - I purchased some grey tweed Aran from Texere Yarns, some silk and cashmere in sea greens and blues, buttons to match, and some beads for my next River Rock scarf. More of these in future entries, no doubt.


1 Texere Yarns

2 Black Hills (UK)

3 Sailors Society Hats

4 Sailors Fancy

5 Heritage Jars

6 Helping Hand

7 Young Designers

8 Young Designers

Posted on October 10, 2008 at 6:17 PM

Comments

Thanks for posting the pictures of the "coral reef." I was curious about it, as I'd seen it mentioned in a knitting magazine. It's great to be able to get a good look at it!

Posted by: Cathy in Va. on October 20, 2008 1:51 AM

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Saturday October 4, 2008

Homespun

This is what I've been up to. There have been major, and in some cases unwise, eBay purchases - but more of that another time - and they have led me to really begin to pull together Narvik. This pattern immediately struck me as one suitable for a hand spinning project, but that was really an artistic judgement and not a practical one (ie it looks like a homespun ethnic jumper).

NarvikFleece.jpg

It does have some ideal qualities - it's mostly rectangles - which can be easily adapted to suit whatever wool weight you end up spinning- but it is written for a chunky wool, and I find it hard to control my spinning to any consistent thickness - I am hoping that this might improve with experience.

Posted on October 4, 2008 at 8:47 AM

Comments

I don't spin very consistently yet, either. But some sweaters seem fairly forgiving of variability, as long as the yarn *averages* the weight I want! That looks like a lovely pattern, by the way. :)

Posted by: Cathy in Va. on October 8, 2008 1:59 AM

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Thursday September 18, 2008

Rutabaga

rutabaga-120.jpg In France, they don't seem very big on the range of root vegetables we seem to thrive on in England. O - except turnips - every where you look - turnips - for any foreigners (and by that I refer to the Scots - see below*) I mean those round white-with-a-hint-of-mauve unappealing tasteless vegetables. When compared with delicious swedes and parsnips (again - see below*) ... what can I say?
Turnips (the round white etc..) are navets in French and on one occasion only George did see parsnips at our favourite veg stall in Brécey market. He pounced, and Mme Batard told him they were called "navets" - he pointed out the "other" navets and she simply shrugged**.
On one other single occasion, we found swedes in a supermarket. However, we were unable to find any name for them - and none of the staff knew what they were called - so we all stood around the scales shaking our heads and shrugging in a true Gallic manner. In the end, we decided - by a process of elimination of 92 other vegetables - that they were rutabaga***.

All these linguistic mysteries were brought to mind by the Rutabaga shopping bag knitting pattern. I may have to make it just for nostalgia. Or in preparation for future nostalgia.

* In Scotland, they do not use the word swede, but seem to call everything root-vegetable-wise, turnips - except the tatties of course... So we have the traditional Haggis, tatties, and neeps which are actually pudding, spuds and mashed swede. [I mention this to goad my Scottish friends - so I probably don't have any now.]

** Using the power of the interweb I find that parsnips are "panais" - but French wikipedia does say they are a vegetable "a little neglected these days - except in Great Britain and the Nordics".

*** In fact these Normans were probably confused by the vast choice of names for a vegetable you never normally see there: "chou-navet", "chou de Siam", "choux suédois" - and all variations on cabbage.

Posted on September 18, 2008 at 11:04 PM

Comments

Swedes are Rutabagas here in the USA. Easier to find this out in Safeway where they are labelled.
Also - since getting our veg box I am a new convert to turnips - we get tiny, sweet, white ones, and they are delicious. The main difference between these and turnips at home is that they have a more starchy texture - delicious in soups.

Posted by: Alison on September 21, 2008 3:21 AM

....just to say it’s not just Scotland that calls “swedes” turnips, it’s the same story in the north-east too. I can’t be buying a swede, they are forever turnips to me :o)

Posted by: Sheelagh on September 22, 2008 8:36 AM

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Sunday August 17, 2008

Feeling blue - part II

A little more metaphorically and a little less literally blue this time.... but only a bit!
Alison and I had such a lovely day a week ago last Saturday, that even the Creative Fibre day yesterday was less of a highlight. Lots of folk were off on holiday so just a small band of us - I did get a lot of useful information from my fellow spinners and dyers though, and Eve confirmed that preparing Wensleydale is a nightmare and there is a lot of wastage. Pam had a fleece, which, with my tiny but dedicated knowledge of one sheep, I was able to confirm is a Suffolk - it even had the cute little occasional black hair. It amused me how instantly recognisable it was - other people had been suggesting it was South Down, so I was even able to go home and check out the SouthDown fleece from my sister to make sure.

LamourS.jpg Last weekend, Alison and I spent the day in London - haunting the knitting department in John Lewis. It was great - the Rowan staff were lots of fun and we bought books and wool. Alison bought some Kaffe Fasset sock wool and the Latest Rowan book with some Wool/Cotton, (in colour 954 "Grand", I think), in order to knit "Lamour" which was also on display in the shop. StillS.jpg

She was also very smitten with "Still" from the Kim Hargreaves book "Thrown Together" (though it's in Calmer which Alison does not like knitting), and we admired the cardigans that the staff were wearing from "Nectar". I was delighted to find that they had copies of the new book "British Sheep Breeds" - so -
net result we came away with stacks of books and inspiration.

Sheep Breeds Nectar

Posted on August 17, 2008 at 5:38 PM

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Friday August 15, 2008

Feeling blue - part I

RivieraBlueSkeins1.jpg

Blue grass, blue floor, blue cooker - blue everything basically.

My knowledge about dyeing advanced in leaps and bounds while I was in France. Sheila gave me an old Dylon pod just before I went, (Riviera Blue), which turned out to be a cold water dye and needed a "fixer". On reading up about this I found it's a reactive dye and the fixer is sodium carbonate or soda ash. I know alkali is bad for wool - and I had no fixer - so I pondered getting some and experimenting. Luckily, I was able to read all about what to do on this great website under the section "Fiber reactive dyes on protein fibers". Basically use acid (vinegar) instead of sodium carbonate.

So I cooked up a bath for my newly plied skeins. Here was the result:

RivieraBlueSkeins2.jpg

I was especially pleased, as at one point I accidentally boiled the dye bath - but the Suffolk wool skeins seemed to cope OK. I resisted the temptation to panic, and avoided poking them, and allowed them to cool slowly in the bath before rinsing.
I had thought I had cracked this spinning lark (har har I hear you laugh) so was a bit sad that I still had very uneven twist and artistic wobbly yarn. However, the yarn picked up the colour unevenly to produce a rather nice tweedy effect.

Finally I went on to knit it into a pair of socks - again, a slight disappointment that my very thin 2 ply is still almost a double knit (worsted weight). But I am getting there. The uneven colour lines are produced as I changed over my spun bobbins, and purely to do with the colour absorption, not a change of skein.

RivieraBlueSocks.jpg

After this success, I bought another reactive black dye in the French supermarket and tried that on my fleece; it produced a much better result than the Dylon all-purpose. I am unsure if this is inherent in the dye type or was due to my increasing experience. The only negative point here is that it is quite expensive dying black - you need about twice as much dye per weight of wool than for other colours (about one pack for 100g).

Posted on August 15, 2008 at 4:57 PM

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Friday August 1, 2008

Dogs and Knitting

They don't exactly go together like a horse and carriage, but they do go together a lot better than cats and knitting. However, the cats are not very interested in much except food - whereas the dogs sit faithfully at my feet as I knit. They are in a permanent state of alert in case there is any sign of a game happening; periodically they lose patience and come over and prod me with a frisbee.

Dogs-Knitting.jpg

Our holiday weather has been excellent so far. We picked more cherries, but they are not as wonderful as they were a couple of weeks ago, and the raspberries have mostly gone now.

I have spent my time preparing - that is flick carding to remove the vegetable matter and remaining dirt - and then dyeing some of my fleece. [I know this looks in rather intimate proximity to my cooking facilities but I was very careful to keep the dying equipment quite separate.]

DyeingFleece.jpg

Perversely, I am interested in dying some fleece black, and it has been a moderate success. As expected, it is grey, or a charcoal black, but it has rather good blue/black overtones, which may work out as I want.

BlackDyedFleece.jpg

It did take an awfully long time to comb through 200g, though - and I need 600g of the black colour and more of other colours.

Posted on August 1, 2008 at 3:27 PM

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Tuesday May 27, 2008

Soggy Monday

The weather has been just awful - we started the day with water pouring through the ceiling in the spare room. Not only the rain but the wind has been positively hurricane-like. How different from last weekend when all was tranquility as I snapped this butterfly (Speckled Wood?) in a patch of sun while George and I were out for walk on Sunday.

Butterfly.jpg

So the Bank Holiday weekend has been one of finishing projects.
I reworked the toes on the original socks I made for Terry a couple years ago, as he had worn them through, and my sister had got to the point where further darning was not possible.
I reworked the neck on the knitalong guernsey ready to take away with me to France next weekend.
I finally completed Pattern of the Month for May - just in time to post it before June starts! I was very satisfied with the result - the bamboo yarn is lovely.

So as my victories this weekend have not been very photogenic - I return to last weekend's walk: here is a little pond area - often dry, but now with all the recent rain looking quite pond-like.

Pond.jpg

A heron lands on Mere pond:
Heron2.jpg Heron1.jpg

Robert is planning to join the Africa Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square today but I imagine it will be rained off, the weather is really so bad.

Posted on May 27, 2008 at 12:47 AM

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Wednesday March 19, 2008

River Rock

I finally started my River Rock scarf which Alison and I are doing as a Knitalong - so I hope she starts soon, as it is such a pleasure to knit, that in any other circumstances I would abandon all other projects and devote myself to this!

I really love putting beads in knitting - it appeals to a side of my nature I try to suppress for the sake of good taste. Left to my own devices I would dress entirely in frills and florals (...but my friends won't let me...). I like shiny things - so beads are perfect, offering glamour while retaining a degree of sophistication more suited to my years - at least that's what I'm hoping....

I notice from my craft group that beading has really taken off - especially (strangely) among the spinners. I believe it's the current 'big thing' - I fervently hope it will take over from card making, which has swamped all our craft fairs, squeezing out other suppliers - or forcing specialist suppliers to take on more card-making supplies.

Posted on March 19, 2008 at 12:06 PM

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Saturday March 8, 2008

Knitting BAFTAs

I had been meaning to post this item for a while but it took time to get the ingredients assembled. Now - mise en place - I was spurred into action by an article at the end of the recent Interweave Knits with the tongue-in-cheek (I think!) suggestion of an Oscar for best knitting in a film - it was that time of year. It was nice to find someone as potentially bonkers as I am - period knitting never fails to catch my eye and I am always interested in the set dressing and costumes in beautifully crafted TV series which no doubt pride themselves in their recreations.

This stunning top appeared in "Yellow Iris" (Poirot - 1993) worn by Pauline Wetherby, played by Geraldine Somerville, (perhaps more well-known recently for her portrayal of Harry Potter's Mother in the recent films).
Poirot1.jpg Poirot2.jpg
Apologies for the quality but I am afraid I took the low-tech option of photographing the TV!

Poirot, Foyle's War, Miss Marple and so on, are all rich sources of delight. They are of special interest to me as I feel sure that Stitchcraft is often used as source material for the knitted fashions; I have visions of props and costume makers (Rob's students!) slaving away over these very patterns to meet the designer's requirements. I am sure I have recognised more than one cardigan in Foyle's War from the 1940s Stitchcrafts, [though I do not recognise the source of the above example - it may not even be a modern knitted recreation - I can't tell].

Posted on March 8, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Comments

Nice sweater. I like to spot knitwear on the television too... Nice checked waistcoat in this episode: http://www.foyleswar.com/episodes/401/401.htm

Posted by: Alison on March 8, 2008 7:39 PM

I think you are just biased by the contents of the waistcoat - may I suggest you review http://www.anthony-howell.de/index.html

Posted by: christina on March 10, 2008 8:13 AM

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Sunday February 24, 2008

Noro socks

O - didn't I say?
They are finished!

Noro_socks.jpg

Yet another sock from the vintage sock book (girl's lacy socks), I think the rich colours and the pattern go well together. There was minimal give in the fancy welt, so I put in an extra shell pattern (cast on more stitches) as it was too tight, as written, for my chubby little legs; I then decreased again before starting the main pattern. This means the pattern does not evenly match the pattern sets when you continue down the leg, (in case you noticed); however there is a discontinuity between the patterns in the shape of a couple of purl rows, so I was not too worried about this.

Actually, I finished the socks in the week but have been so busy, I had no time to take their photo.
Yesterday, I wore them while getting my hair cut. So when (having failed with the reliable opening gambit of 'did I have any holiday plans') Jayne said "what have you been up to lately, then?" - I was able to show her. I think she was impressed.... she used the word cosy...

Posted on February 24, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Comments

They came out really well. How was the yarn to knit with?

Posted by: Alison on February 25, 2008 4:31 PM

I enjoyed knitting with it; it varied in thickness but felt thin, but worsted (and thus strong), and not fluffy. Actually - and strangely - as I knit, I am very affected by colour as well, so the beautiful emergence of the colours added to the pleasure.
There seems quite a bit left over and I am hoping to knit mittens - I may have to add trim in another yarn.

Posted by: Christina on February 25, 2008 7:52 PM

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Thursday February 14, 2008

Clickety-clack, over the tracks.

I have finished George's socks. Yet another pattern from my Vintage Sock book. They are seen here suspended on the fantastic sock drier - a little gift from Alison.

Railway-socks.jpg

George is very taken with the stripes and is regretful that they are covered by your shoes. I was quite interested in the main pattern which is railway stitch. I followed the pattern "blind" as it were, and enjoyed seeing the track pattern emerge.

railway-pattern.jpg

It is obviously my aim to knit my way through this book, as I am using another pattern from it for my Noro sock wool. These are coming along very well too - I am turning the first heel.

Posted on February 14, 2008 at 2:27 PM

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Monday February 4, 2008

New projects

I have kicked off lots of new - but little - projects.
Alison gave me a ball of Noro's sock wool; it is lovely and I don't know how I managed to contain myself for so long. I am using one of the Vintage Sock book lacy patterns. I thought at first that a plain design would be better but having viewed some samples that others have knitted, I think it will look good in this design.

Noro_socks_start.jpg

This will make Alison laugh if no-one else: the initial two colours, these particular shades of purple and brown, remind me immediately of the vivid colour splash scenes from "2001, A Space Odyssey". The technique of flooding the screen with negative style colours and odd filters was very popular in the 1960s (drug culture I expect), and this film used it for the scenes travelling "beyond Saturn". The one I remember, through the spaceman's eyes, was a simple scene of a chalk cliffs and rough seas - but all filtered into purple and chocolate colours. Although it was simple to understand the filming technique, I was totally "there" in the spaceship, captivated by the wide-screen cinema; the effect of being in such an alien landscape - familiar yet awful - was utterly beautiful and at the same time horrifying.
I do wonder if it's all in my imagination, as I saw the film some 30 years ago, and even then it was 10 years old. Amazing that it was still capable of such an impact.

I do not (happily) retain any horror of the colours themselves!

spaceman.jpg

Posted on February 4, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Comments

You are, of course, absolutely correct - I did laugh. I have now, however, actually seen the movie. I imagine that watching it in the cinema (before the current computer enhanced graphics were normal) is a somewhat different experience from watching it on TV, in my living room, explaining it to 2 small boys!

Posted by: Alison on February 6, 2008 6:55 PM

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Saturday February 2, 2008

Here's the thing....

Rowan book 43 arrived yesterday, which provided a short but pleasant diversion for me before I dashed off to visit a customer. The problem is - this is what I find appealing:

chevelle_L.jpg

I know, I know.
And I am never going to make it (really!). No doubt, this will relieve my good friends, who don't want to see me humiliate myself - or possibly don't want to have to walk out in public with me if I dress like this. [I'm sure one day I shall dress like this - just to warn them....].

Here are a couple of things I may actually make:
Fossil.jpg Capri.jpg Purity.jpg

I really like my Bonita top in Damask, and this Fossil summer top over a T-shirt looks very wearable for me; I liked knitting with Damask, and there are a couple of new colours on offer this year.
The Capri cardigan appeals to me, though I might knit it with longer sleeves, and is knitted in Calmer - again, a yarn I really like.
The shawl is, of course, a Sharon Miller design [**see footnote]; I love it, I'm sure I will have little reason to wear something like this, but I may knit it anyway!

I noticed (and perhaps you can see) they have used a - how can I say? - slightly chunkier model for many of these designs; she is young, pretty - but not size zero. How great is that? They are being a bit more "politically correct", (in its true positive meaning), by avoiding promoting an unachievable female form. They have listened - both to their readers, saying they want to see how the designs look on people they can identify with, and to campaigners against skinny role models for teenagers. As far as I can see they have not made capital out of this by mentioning it - they've just done it. Although I am pretty small, I am short, and thus have a stocky appearance, and I can see much more easily whether these designs will suit or not.

I read a (only slightly negative) review by another blogger - and I guess they can't help it if they don't like Rowan 43 - but I always find such reviews a bit unfair. Admittedly, the last couple of issues have not been packed with stuff I want to knit - but that's just as well for me, as I don't have that much knitting capacity, though I enjoy reading the book. I suppose I do have sympathy for those who really can't afford to buy a book unless it's good value for them, with lots of patterns they really like. But beyond that, I really admire Rowan; they try hard to keep up with trends and clearly do offer patterns outside of mainstream taste - only hindsight proves whether they were being avant garde or just weird.
I realise I am not exactly in the first flush of youth, which may be the reason, but I often come back to patterns from older Rowan magazines and find them more appealing, for example, my red version of Elspeth, from book 37, which was a great success for me, though I did not consider it on first viewing.

In the magazine they promote other new books "RYC Summer Delights", showing some good designs, in my opinion; "Purelife" which showcases a new yarn, Organic Cotton, (lovely idea); and they have an excellent articles on the production of the new cottons, and techniques for sewing up and finishing your knitting.

**Footnote: I think I have spotted a printers error in Purity, and if I'm right, correct it as follows:
Rowan 43 Page 121 Purity: "Work first edging" reads:
"Row 1: Cast on 20sts, work across these 20 sts then patt to end"
I think it should read
"Row 1: Cast on 20sts, work across these 20 sts as folls: inc once in each of these 20sts, then patt to end".
This produces the right number of sts and also matches the other side.

Posted on February 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Comments

Don't you have a young hip step-daughter who would like a granny square capelet??

Posted by: Alison on February 6, 2008 6:53 PM

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Saturday January 26, 2008

Doilies

Last night (bedtime reading) I revisited a beautiful book George's Mother gave me for Christmas, which had been rather neglected in the excitement of the Vintage Socks. SashKaganCrochet.jpg
It's Crochet Inspiration by Sasha Kagan. I love this designer and had bought all her books up until Country Inspiration published in 2000; I was not so keen on the designs in Country Inspiration - and in reality I am not sure I have ever knitted any of Sasha's designs, being typically beautiful tiny intarsia motifs (my favourites!). I was however going to purchase the book, for old times sake, at her stand in Alexandra Palace in 2000, but she was a little brusquely off-hand with me and that rather dampened the warmth I felt towards her. I should have had more sympathy, as I know from experience that dealing with the general public for long periods on an exhibition stand is very wearing - but it did put me off; anyway I had a much better experience last year and she has two new books out of which this is one.

I'm not very good with "inspiration" books, ie ones that don't focus on patterns to make items, but this one had quite a few things to teach me.
Firstly, it made me realise that I may be a fairly experienced knitter but I am not up to the same standard in crochet. Sure I started with crochet at an early age, and I can follow a pattern, but that's not all there is to it. If you showed me a swatch of knitting, I could probably tell you how it was knitted and even name the stitch, but this bumper book of swatches made me understand how little I know about crochet. I know - I should be more humble....
Secondly, it really was inspirational, being packed with samples of interesting stitches and designs; I can't think of any aspects it failed to cover.

Here is a taster (hoping she won't instantly slap an injunction on me for reproducing her pictures, which I am only showing to make you interested in the book!).

SashKaganFlowers1.jpg SashKaganFlowers2.jpg

Don't go away thinking it's all doilies and lace by any means, though; I just felt I had to show her (an my) love of floral motifs in this extract.

One of the (many) things I was attracted to making was a lace mat in filet crochet! This is, however, a technique I do have experience of and am not so keen on; in stitch terms, it's just a hard repetitive grind. So I am tempering my desire to rush off immediately and weed out my crochet hook and cotton. But it's certainly on the agenda for the future [to add to my kitschy cat collection - lace mats otherwise not such a prominent feature in my house]

FiletCats.jpg

Posted on January 26, 2008 at 8:54 AM

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Saturday January 19, 2008

The Secret of the Worsted.

Thursday was pretty frantic for me, ending with a journey down to Plymouth, where I spent all day on Friday. I took the guernsey with me for amusement during the 6 hours on the train. The guernsey has taken on an entire life of its own now, expanding in all directions as an uncontrollable amorphous sort of lump. It reminds me of an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea**, and I expect to get up in the morning and find it has taken over my bedroom, ("Woollen Man").

guernsey_blob.jpg

Cramming it back into my suitcase became like the end of a ventriloquist's act [Get back in the case - "I don't want to go back in there" - Now be sensible, its only for a while... - "It's all dark in there; I'm not going" etc]. Although, if you do start talking to your knitting on a train, I find people tend to shrink away, and get very involved in their reading matter, or see something fascinating out of the window suddenly.

** The series was "notorious for their inclusion of absurd science and an emphasis on the juvenile 'sci-fi' element", and the episode in question was Cradle of the Deep, (1965). The reason I remember it over and above the others was that it had a similar plot to some other sci-fi or horror story I had seen. It was probably my first realisation that not all plots are original! As there are many such stories based on this theme, from 1950s horror films to Startrek (all generations), I have no idea which other series I had been watching.
Recently, I saw a (not new) TV documentary about Irwin Allen charmingly hosted by Bill Mumy - and the Robot [Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!]. I am amazed that I was so ignorant that I knew nothing of this director despite 5pm Sunday afternoons of my youth being filled with endless reruns of Voyage, and Lost in Space - and I never made the connection with the popular disaster movies of the 1970s.

Posted on January 19, 2008 at 9:43 AM

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Monday January 14, 2008

Rebuttal

I don't suppose hoards of knitters will read this item inspired by the Yarn Harlot's item on wool (cheap or otherwise). On the down side, I don't have her readership - but on the upside, I do have lots of "opinions" - and, luckily, my own blog to keep them in - so what the hell?!
I say: "rebuttal" but actually it's a bit of a soggy argument as I'm sure I agree with her somewhere there - in fact I agree with her full stop, I suspect. This is just my excuse to write about it too.

I, also, knitted my way through the 1980s, but don't remember acrylics being so prevalent, or wool being scarce or expensive. My 'wool' stash from that period tells a different story, though, - it is not lacking in synthetic content.
However, in addition, I was a prolific knitter in the 1970s. Dictated by fashion, or the general feelings of the era, I had no time at all for any synthetics - not in fabrics or yarn. It all had to be pure cottons and wools. [My older sister, often reminds me of this fact, so I know it's true!]. We were rejecting the previous decade which had benefited from the explosion in organic chemistry in the 1950s; all those branded nylons were just old hat.

It just had to be wool - but sadly, I was a penniless student at the time, and so I always bought the cheapest (and often did not buy enough!). In consequence I have some old woolly friends that are poor quality, and scratchy to wear, (and too small!).

70s_shawl.jpg

Here is my shawl, crocheted, from a mid-70s edition of Stitchcraft, in a Shetland double knitting wool. I did not use it much at the time - fashionable concept - but (being Stitchcraft) not quite "right". Here we are some thirty years later, and it has come out of the wardrobe again, but is rough to the touch and the fringe has matted.

I suppose the issue, perhaps, was not choosing wool suited to the task. Shetland wools are not only subject to felting but actually designed for this very quality. But at the time I did not realise this, and, thinking about it honestly now, I don't think I would have been delighted had I knitted this in an acrylic.

Catkin_hoodie.jpg

The other side of the coin from those days, and probably still applicable today, is that truly expensive wools can also disappoint. This is another (possibly Stitchcraft) pattern from 1977, knitted in a bouclé wool called Jaeger Catkin. As it was a speciality wool, I decided to splash out and buy the recommended stuff to get the right effect. I was really sad that it went bobbly really quickly. Strangely, looking at it now, it seems not as delapidated as I remember.**

Perhaps, again, it just requires some experience and knowledge about wools to understand what you can expect of them, and how to care for them. Worsteds are hard, maybe coarse, but hard wearing; woolens are soft, airy, but subject to pilling and felting. The blissful situation today is that the choice is out there, in colour and quality, and I am reveling in it. I am glad I have expanded my woolly horizons from the once narrow bigotry of my youth.

** This sweater is now knitted as designed in the pattern. At the time, I "improved" it by making bell shaped sleeves, which, I can only guess, were more fashionable in my eyes. I wore it day after day throughout my year in Southampton in 1977. In the 1980s, I unravelled the sleeves and reknitted them straight.... I can only assume I wore it again at that time. Although I can still just squeeze into this sweater, it is really too small for me now - which may be (ahem) a Good Thing.

Posted on January 14, 2008 at 11:51 PM

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Wednesday January 2, 2008

New year, new wool.

I brought my guernsey knitting with me to France, which showed good intentions. However, I also brought my new Christmas book of vintage sock patterns taken from old Weldon's magazines, (published in an era preceding Stitchcraft).

I have spent ages reading and planning socks.... and to compound the folly, I went to the Phildar shop in Avranches and rummaged in the bargain wool box, with the following socky consequences:

Phildar_bargains.jpg

I say: "wool" but in fact most Phildar yarns are highly synthetic; you can forgive them as the yarns are very high quality, and of course synthetics have some good qualities. But I miss that luxurious feel. I try and make up for it by remembering previous sock projects made in vintage wools which shrank beyond recognition at the first sight of water (rather, I mean I felted them, of course - for a very small person - or my friend's baby...).
There's no getting away from it though - even the one called lambswool manages only 51% wool. I was encouraged by Préface (not one I know of old) which is 75% wool, but they actually recommend it for socks and in it seems to follow only offer it in direly dull colours; the burgundy and ash colours I chose were in the bargain box as discontinued.
Finally we have Luxe, which I do know (and love) of old. It is fairly fine gauge for the modern era, and Phildar used it as their staple family baby wool, offering it in a good colour range. I love the colour I have found here. However, the colour range is not so wide now, and it remains only 15% wool.

I expect you are wondering about all those kittens. Well here they are. One orange one seems to have disappeared, leaving one orange, two grey and one clone of her Mother (with a slightly more appealing tail I would say).

CatFamily.jpg

These are the two good looking ones, which I think are the boys of the family.

BabyBoys.jpg

Posted on January 2, 2008 at 6:59 PM

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Thursday December 27, 2007

Quiet time

All my guests have gone, leaving George, Deborah and I to enjoy a peaceful time together scoffing wonderful cold meats and left over trifle. It is very quiet at work as well, so there has been much sitting in front of a comfortable fire, and admiring our perfectly proportioned tree (heaven knows how we got such a nice tree after a fraught and depressing evening at a DIY store in the week before Christmas, where they had decided, with 7 days still to go, that Christmas was over and it was time to remove all signs of the festival, leaving everything in total building site disarray! Anyway - we did - and it's lovely).

Tree.jpg

I received lots of really inspired gifts. Sheila gave me a set of hand made oriental table mats - a real labour of love - they are lovely and we used them throughout Christmas.

PlaceMats.jpg

My sister gave me extraordinary blue and pink pastel Argyle Wellingtons; George's sister gave me a Debbie Abrahams knitted bag kit;

DebbieAbrahamsKit.jpg

Alison gave me a great book of vintage sock patterns taken from old Weldon's magazines, (published in an era preceding Stitchcraft); and George, tired of my finding myself short of projects while in France produced the following:

EmergencyProject.jpg

I hope everyone else enjoyed themselves as much as I.

Posted on December 27, 2007 at 9:00 PM

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Sunday December 16, 2007

Mini-Santa

Santa_stocking.jpg


By special request, the Santa-in-the-chimney stocking is complete, and due in the mail (special delivery) tomorrow.
And a real pain in the neck he was. Thank goodness I didn't have to make the whole crèche of figures - although I am full of admiration for Jean Greenhowe, who has presented dozens of little Christmas characters from the same basic design. They all look convincingly different with the simplest of detailing to fit with the small scale.

Posted on December 16, 2007 at 6:56 PM

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Thursday December 13, 2007

Stocking fillers

Not much in the blog but a lot of activity. I was working some very long hours traveling up and down to central London last week, so I've been pretty tired - but have been able to knit during the commuting.
The tedious painting and sanding continues in the bathroom - last weekend I made a couple of shelves. I am really poor at woodwork, and cannot cut straight - so the fact that they look like a couple of normal shelves is an achievement in itself.

I have been very focussed on sticking to plain knitting, one item at a time. This may sound normal to others but it's not usually how I work. The result is that the occasional finished item has just popped out of the woolbag, almost unbidden. An astrakhan cardigan from Debbie Bliss's "Out of Town" book - sporting wonderful buttons purchased at Saratoga Knitting Arts.

astrakhan_gold.jpg

I needed small knitting for traveling up and down to London all last week, and Terry's Christmas socks have been the perfect project. One of the Austerman Step balls has been completely transformed and the other is in progress (I have 8 hours on the train next week going to Plymouth). Meanwhile here is "Pebble":

Terrys_socks1.jpg

But never mind the fillers - I am supposed to be knitting an actual Christmas Stocking. It is very late in the day now, but as the request has been outstanding since last Christmas it seems unreasonable to have not found the time! I need to recruit some little elves....

Posted on December 13, 2007 at 5:38 PM

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Sunday December 2, 2007

Cleaning up and clearing out.

Have been feeling a little glum - but only due to minor things, like I cannot get my new computer notepad to work properly - more precisely, I can't get the software to work properly.
And I spent much of the weekend working on the "finishing touches" to our bathroom - it is starting to look really nice - well, half of it looked nice already of course - but it's a hard slog of filling, sanding, and painting - o and cleaning.... which I especially love.

SparklingStole4.jpg Still - nothing like finishing a bit of knitting to cheer you up, eh? So Pattern of the Month December is now complete and the pattern available on the site.
Here I am looking very glamorous.
OK - take it from me - I look much more glamorous than I did during the DIY and before the shower.

This made me feel quite Christmassy, in combination with making my (or rather Delia's) Whisky Dundee Cake for said festival; I much prefer it to traditional Christmas cake. [I get to make it, so I get to choose.]

In addition, I have made my Vintage Patterns link live, for any of you who have a strange love of old patterns. I seem to find them weirdly desirable even when I have no intention of knitting them. Most of them are there in the hope of finding someone to love them like their own - not because they are hot property, I'm afraid.
And yet, in posting them on the site, I felt very inspired to actually knit some of them - in fact, this morning, I even went as far as searching for a vintage yarn on eBay (Wendy Pampas) to match one of the patterns!
However, I hope my time in listing them is worth it for someone, as it is another (in the words of Hollis) "great time-suck". [But a wonderful excuse to review old patterns.]

Posted on December 2, 2007 at 6:40 PM

Comments

Well it, and you, look terrific! I really like it in the sparkly wool - especially compared to the original...hee hee

Posted by: Alison on December 3, 2007 4:39 AM

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Friday November 16, 2007

Knit-frocks

A lovely eBay-purchased book popped through my letterbox this morning. It is "Cornish Guernseys and Knit-frocks" by Mary Wright, and pleasingly it matches the format and style of the other two books I have about regional guernseys or ganseys. Not that this is part of any master plan to knit several hundred more guernseys - they involve a lot of stamina and dedicated knitting and I have yet to finish my first choice. However all three of these books contain so much more information than just the patterns - in fact although there are patterns, it is more a documentation (before it's too late I would say, since our fishing industry has more or less gone) of regional stitch variations previously communicated only by word of mouth.

Knit-frocks.jpg This picture on the cover has a great deal of interest all by itself - you could write a novel just based on it. Unfortunately it's not clear in this small scale but: the woman is knitting outdoors - she has the knitting pinned to her to support the weight - Alison and I can both attest to the impossible weight of a guernsey as you progress knitting all-in-one. You can see that, (take it from me if you can't make it out), charmingly she has her ball of wool stuck on one of the spikes of the iron fencing, as she works. She seems to me to be pretty well-dressed - maybe it's to catch the eye of what seems to be an admirer that you can see lounging ultra-casually in the background of the shot - hands behind his head...

StepWool.jpg




My Web of Wool Austermann Step wool arrived also - "mit aloe und jojoba"- can't wait to start the socks - although the wool I am currently knitting is lovely and soft too! These are colours 6, Lark, and 14, Pebble.

Posted on November 16, 2007 at 12:01 PM

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Tuesday November 6, 2007

Thneed

Thneed.jpg I'm being quite useful. This thing is a Thneed.
A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!
It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat.
But it has OTHER uses. Yes, far beyond that.
You can use it for carpets. For pillows! For sheets!
Or curtains! Or covers for bicycle seats!"
    [from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss].

I just read an article from the Observer's September magazine, and I'm feeling a bit insecure now.
Apparently this is the latest fashion article. They explained it was from a Dr Seuss story - which I would have thought in itself would make everyone think twice. I am struggling to find a picture on-line - even the accompanying one in the Observer - are they just making fun of me ? Anyway, it looks like a knitted burkha - or maybe a woollen Darlek interpretation ... [I like the original illustration better].

Even sadder than my being so out of it now that I can't even see the appeal of a quirky fashion, is the fact that the very story of the Lorax is a parable about greed, consumerism, and pollution. The point of the Thneed is that it is not needed at all.

[George simply thinks I should knit one - it sounds just perfect, what with being a sock and a glove and all....]

Posted on November 6, 2007 at 12:49 AM

Comments

I asked Gill if she wanted me to knit her one. Her answer is unrepeatable!

Posted by: Alison on November 15, 2007 8:19 PM

I went up to London the day after this post and was astonished to find not a single person wearing one of these.

Posted by: Christina on November 15, 2007 11:28 PM

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Sunday November 4, 2007

Cons or scakes?

Feeling like I need coddling (yes - still feeling like that!) so on a whim I made some rock buns. This is my award winning [1st prize, Lancing Arts and Crafts exhibition circa 1968] rock bun recipe taken from the Radiation Cookery Book designed for use with the "New World" Regulo-Controlled Gas Cooker. And you thought it was only retro knitwear that interested me......

RockBuns.jpg

They are a little overly brown - but I blame the fan oven being slightly hotter than the recipe expected. These Radiation cook books (presumably free with the cooker) turn up fairly frequently in Jumble and Boot Sales, mine being the original from my Mother - we had the matching cooker. My advice is - lower the oven temperature slightly. We ate them with butter - as they were a bit dry, and as I said to George: rock buns are a bit like a mixture between a cake and a scone - hence, Cons.

Finally set my mind to finishing the sewing up on George's birthday jumper. Here he models it, protesting at the use of flash photography, as well as demanding anonymity on the blog....

George-in-Tobias.jpg

After this I had clearly run out of knitting..... so I cast on some socks for a Christmas present requested by my sister for her husband. I decided to use some sock wool bought at Full Thread Ahead.

Read on for the Award-winning rock bun recipe:

Rock Buns

Ingredients

  • ½ lb flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ oz butter
  • 1½ oz lard
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • 3 oz currants
  • 1 egg
  • A little milk
  • A little grated nutmeg
  • Candied peel

Method

  • Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder, and rub in the butter and lard.
  • Add the sugar, currants, and nutmeg.
  • Beat the egg with a little milk, and mix the whole into a stiff paste.
  • Arrange on greased baking sheet in rough heaps, (makes 10), and on top of each place a small piece of candied peel.
  • Bake for 20 minutes with the "Regulo" at mark 6.

Posted on November 4, 2007 at 4:24 PM

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Sunday October 21, 2007

Back to reality

Two items left on the itinerary: kumihimo braiding and .... underwater knitting. Yes... you heard that right.

I was keen to try the braiding using the polystyrene circle tool, and it seemed to work out just fine; it produced the same kind of braid as my marudai, and the plastic bobbins seem very handy - could be used for intarsia - except I'm never doing that again(!). I hope to be able to use this method with thicker wools to make corded bag handles - to go with all those other bag handles I have bought in my time.... If you use thicker wools though, it will distort the polystyrene, making it unsuitable for further use with finer threads.

Kumihimo.jpg

The under water knitting was really amusing - as the weather was so good, we did want to try it, and Alison managed to jolly a lot of people into it, even though the last thing she felt like was a dip in the pool. The rules were made easier for us, so you could chose full immersion or not, and only the knitting had to be under the water; some chose to stay at the side and some had snorkels...!

UnderwaterKnitting.jpg

Alison was declared the winner, being first to 4 rows with her speedy continental style! Below is the winning knitting - Alison's in stocking stitch on the right and mine in garter on the left.

WetKnitting.jpg

Finally it was all over, and we had to say good bye to everyone, and goodbye to our lovely room with the view of the sea, and set off for home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable few days, excellent value for money, and just the sort of break Alison and I wanted it to be. Hollis and her colleagues put a lot of effort into making it a great weekend - thanks to them, and looking forward to next year (or maybe the one after that...).

Carmel-view2.jpg

Posted on October 21, 2007 at 9:06 PM

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Saturday October 20, 2007

Carmel by the Sea

To breakfast, (and for most of the morning truth to tell), I wore what I now think of as my very luxurious Rowan bedjacket (Carolina - magazine 39) - a good opportunity to show off, I thought, - and our group of knitters did not disappoint with their nice comments. The seminar this morning was on shadow knitting; this is a method of knitting stripes in a combination of plain and purl stitches such that, when viewed at an angle, a "secret" pattern can be seen. There are entire books devoted to the subject, but I preferred the more abstract cushion covers over any form of clothing. We had a choice of what to knit - I did the "piano keys" scarf, and Alison chose the "DNA" scarf.

ShadowKnitting.jpg

For lunch we adjourned to the Forge in the Forest - which is neither a forge nor in a forest - but does (as they advertise) love dogs - the dogs provided some unwanted distraction for our group. I think knitters are mainly cat people.... it seems inevitable.

ItalianWool.jpg After lunch, we went en masse to the woolshop, "Knitting by the Sea", conveniently situated across the road from the restaurant. I bought some wonderful Italian wool - wildly rich in colour and now definitely destined to be Pattern of the Month for December... I was also captivated by some buttons they had in a set of four with the playing card suits on them (heart, club, diamond, spade). This inspires in me some sort of memory - these card or gambling motifs are very fifties, James Bond etc and I think there a lot of retro patterns featuring them. Whether I find anything suitable is another matter; both Alison and I are agreed that any motif in the knitting should be very low key. I was so enamoured of Hollis' merino knitting wool which we used this morning that I plan to buy a cardigan's worth in black perhaps to use on such a project with these buttons....

Alison and I then spent the afternoon chilling out - buying patent cold remedies (Alison), buying sun glasses, (me), and sunning ourselves on a handy bench in the town.

Me_and_Alison.jpg

In the evening it was back to work with the "short rows" clinic.

ShortRows.jpg

We tried 3 methods of essentially wrapping the stitches when knitting back on a short row (such as you might do, say,when turning a heel on a sock). I preferred the conventional method that I am used to, and the second method produced the same result with a slightly different technique. The third Japanese method seemed overly complicated for very little benefit - but some of the group thought it was less visible on the right side of the work (but much more visible from the wrong side). The continental knitters had some difficulty in getting the stitches twisted into the right orientation - but any short row pattern will inevitably be slower to knit than just whizzing away with plain stitches.

ShortRows2.jpg

Note: this isn't Alison's new design for a knee warmer, it's the three methods of short row knitting. Can't really see a difference can you?

Posted on October 20, 2007 at 9:52 PM

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Friday October 19, 2007

Knitting Camp

With great excitement we set off for our weekend at the Full Thread Ahead Retreat in Carmel. After a dubious start to my holiday (rain), the weather is all set to be beautiful for the next few days. On the way to Carmel, we stopped off at Capitola for lunch, which turned out to be quite substantial ["I always eat a light lunch"] - I ate a kind of Chinese duck in a wrap served with a marmalade sauce - no really - delicious.

We arrived at 3 pm to find one other person already there, Trish, who was very friendly and waved her knitting at us from the seminar room windows. Our room - our suite of rooms! - was simply lovely with a full view of the sea from our balcony.

Carmel-view1.jpg

People were arriving throughout the rest of the afternoon, and we slipped out for a pre-prandial stroll via the Coach outlet, as per our itinerary, and popped in for a little aperitif at the Hogs Breath Inn before our pot-luck dinners.

Cheers.jpg

There was a ton of food and we could see there was unlikely to be any necessity to actually go out in the evenings hereafter. Once we had knitted, introduced ourselves, and our projects, (which was actually really interesting - being one who copies rather than designs, I love seeing what other people are doing), we moved on to the "class" for the evening. We dyed 3 small skeins of wool, by micro-waving with KoolAid, and food colourings; I was very smitten by the brick-like red colour unexpectedly produced by the morello cherry drink.... Alison bravely managed to stay the course despite not being well, and we retired at about 9, and hung our skeins to dry on our towel rails in the room.

Dyed-skeins.jpg

Kumihimo fingers. [We haven't learnt how to do this yet but I am sure this is close...]

kumihimo-fingers.jpg

We did not buy any coach bags but Robi bought the most wonderful.... well to call it a "tote" does not do it justice. It really was fabulous and - the best part - it was a thousand dollar bag sold for 250.

Coach-tote.jpg

Posted on October 19, 2007 at 10:43 PM

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Thursday October 18, 2007

Saratoga Knitting Arts

Already visited Yarndogs in Los Gatos and bought some lovely sock wool ("Wildfoote"); I would have bought more but they had only 2 balls left - still, that's enough for socks eh?

Wildfoote.jpg

Today we went shopping in Saratoga. The wool shop there is wonderful, and I bought a great bargain pack of mixed wool, which I am hoping to use on Pattern of the Month for December.

I also purchased some buttons - two to match the wool pack, and two for my latest project.

We also did some clothes shopping (for my benefit really - although Alison picked up some camouflage clothing and boots for the boys). Despite Alison's best efforts, after we had tried Nordstrom Rack and Favorite Footwear, we ended up in Ross "Dress-for-Less". We were looking for some cheap T-shirts that we can use this weekend in case the dyeing class gets splashy. Here we were successful - and I also bought a splendid 1950s/60s styled short jacket in loose weave plaid, and a rather busy patterned shirt for work (which I instantly mutilated when I got home in order to remove the pockets, which, to quote Alison, "might look nice if they were actually on the bosom rather than under the armpits" - at $7 mutilation seemed acceptable).

Posted on October 18, 2007 at 11:56 PM

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Friday October 12, 2007

Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitchery Show 2007

We had a fantastic time at the show, as usual. Probably a bit more laid back than usual, and less of a buying frenzy. We worked out that we have been going every year now for 8 years - so probably accumulated enough stuff!

We started the day with a workshop about rag rug making. It was great fun and I am quite smitten. It is something I've been interested in for many years, but always concerned about starting a new hobby. However, as new hobbies go, there is no huge outlay on materials or equipment, you can almost start right away....
Here was what we achieved during the class.

RagRugSample.jpg

Having said that, we did both buy Hessian (the ideal is to recycle animal feed sacks - but neither of us has access to that sort of stuff!), and Sheila bought a hook and a bodger. The more expensive shuttle tool is something I intend to look for during my holiday with Alison, as it may be cheaper in the US.

On this stall - the Shuttle -

Shuttle.jpg

I found some bargain priced Tana Lawn. Alison has been interested in getting some Liberty Tana Lawn for some time now but it is astonishingly expensive. The colours were all lovely but mostly tiny flower prints in blue shades - so I was delighted to find this somewhat retro print example in colours that will suit Alison.

ShuttleTanaLawn.jpg

See the extended entry for photo album of the show.

Click on the thumbnails to page through and view the pictures.


Rag Rugs

Rag Rugs

Rag Rugs

Rag Rugs

Braid - ducks

Rag Rugs

Bead flowers

Bead flower

Lace

Jewellery Beads

Wool

HipKnits

Knit a River

Relax and Knit

Foyer

Posted on October 12, 2007 at 11:38 PM

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Friday September 7, 2007

Friendly Tortoise

I finished my woolly tortoise and he is now safely written up as pattern of the month.

As a kid, I had a number of tortoises, and funnily enough they all seemed to run away - I remember I acquired my first one as it was "on the run" and we could not find the original owner. They would just launch themselves into mid air down the steps from our garden - sometimes we would find them at the bottom, stuck with their legs waving uselessly in the air, but sooner or later (law of averages) they would land the right way up - and they were off...

Anyway the woolly one made it in and out of my life in record time. We went to Moulin de Jean this evening with Ava and Peter, and they dropped in to collect a Gnome (don't ask). Ava spotted the tortoise (Terence apparently) and said "I always wanted a tortoise" and to my amazement when I offered him to her she joyfully took him home. I do hope she wasn't just being polite. I know he's friendly and everything but....

Posted on September 7, 2007 at 11:19 PM

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Wednesday September 5, 2007

Maiden Over

Now the cricket season is safely over, and after several false starts, I finally completed the cricket pullover. Here is Lloyd being measured up one evening at the end of June - he doesn't look too optimistic at this point - and I must say, it's the first time I have been tempted to stand on a box in order to reach a bloke's chest.

Lloyd2.jpg Lloyd3.jpg

And here is the final result - tantara:

Posted on September 5, 2007 at 6:18 PM

Comments

Good work - I thought you said you had made no progress...must have been knitting like a demon.

Posted by: Alison on September 8, 2007 8:24 PM

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Tuesday August 21, 2007

Tvåändsstickning

Rowan sneaked out their Winter magazine without my noticing. Rushed off to get my copy today, and found it a bit disappointing - I don't want to be disloyal as I love their books whether to my taste or not, but periodically we get this kind of Lopi, Scandinavian, shapeless, Big Wool stuff which does not really lend itself to my size or shape (or taste).
[I notice they've brought out a whole book of the stuff called "New Shapes" - I will just stick with my old shape for now, I think].

Nonetheless, I seem to have managed to put markers on half a dozen pages. I did like a cushion - and then found it took about 8 balls of wool, which means I would have to really like it. And I was attracted to a long coat (Doon), but this would mean endless knitting in Kid Classic - so again - I would really have to want it. The truth is that you only ever want to knit a couple of the things, so the overall style of the book probably doesn't matter. The thing I really intend to knit (after the long list of stuff I have already stashed for) is Bridges - also kid classic - hopefully quick to do, following a theme I have noticed, and suitable for smoothing out that bulging waistline, - and giving the Short Person a Long Line.... hmm...

Narvik.jpg It all reminds me of the stuff I was doing in the 1980s - when the idea of spinning first appealed. Looking again, it strikes me that some of the items might well be suitable for those first lumpy efforts at spinning. I am embarrassed to admit I liked Narvik (right) - which is made of simple square shapes in different colours (any colour as long as it's grey) and definitely has possibilities... if I ever spin anything in time for such up-to-the-minute styling. Athough I don't believe in going out of my way to make stuff in which I look horrid, I live in hope of avoiding the (inevitable?) slide into Old Fogeyland, which (oddly) is worse than the prospect merely dressing badly.

OK - this item has nothing to do with the title I've given it which is actually a knitting technique rather like Fair Isle but the two strands of wool are the same colour rather than contrasting. Get it? No? O well read this...
I just liked the name, and it evokes all that Nordic stuff. Mmm.

Posted on August 21, 2007 at 11:05 PM

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Friday August 10, 2007

Bonita update.

Bonita_back.jpg


I finally got round to adding the shell decoration to Bonita. I found a suitable necklace in Accessorize and cannibalised it. I was unsure about whether I really wanted it like this or not, so I have made the necklace detachable - so it can be either a "normal" little knitted top, or something more for the evening perhaps. Having tried it, I now think it looks very pretty.

Posted on August 10, 2007 at 8:24 PM

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Saturday July 21, 2007

Jolly good company

A loud thump in the morning announced the Amazon delivery of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I did not spend all weekend in it's grip though. I have a backlog of crime to get through first .... and anyway I expect George will want first go at it as he ordered it. We stayed in the right mood by going to see the recently released movie (Order of the Phoenix) this evening. I liked it a lot better than the book, where I found Harry a bit too unreasonable (I think it was supposed to be his teenage angst but it didn't work for me). I thought the writing left something to be desired, although I don't think it's a general decline in her style - I liked the Half Blood Prince much more. Perhaps she did not have much feel for her subject (as opposed to the wizard world which no doubt she has experienced first hand!). Needless to say I am looking forward to reading the new book.

I spent all day at the Creative Fibres - we formed a jolly little group and as usual benefited greatly from their hints and tips on a great range of topics. I told them about my blog and they all promptly refused to be photographed any more.
Sigh.

CFgroup.jpg

Mavis was there wearing a really great jacket. The colour and texture were wonderful.
mavis.jpg mavis_detail.jpg She had spun the yarn from a shetland wool mixed with some silk and her own cashmere rabbit's fur. She told me all about her rabbit (he is 7 years old) and her other animals. She has a great collection of guinea pigs (11?) which are in my experience somewhat unusual pets among my peer group - it turns out they are "rescue" guinea pigs. I find it hard to see how someone could abandon a guinea pig - but there we are. Anyway the fibre she had spun was lovely and she varied the fibre combinations as she spun and plied to produce a self patterning effect. The rabbit produces a very fluffy yarn and therefore she finds it better to combine it with other fibres.

Posted on July 21, 2007 at 11:22 PM

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Friday July 20, 2007

"This is a disaster isn't it!" Mr Bingley

I recorded "Bride and Prejudice" recently, as I thought it would make the perfect viewing on a wet afternoon with the knitting. I had been so keen to see it ever since I listened to a radio item when they were in the process of filming. Despite much criticism from the Jane Austen Society prior to its release, they were won over I think by a special preview for them in Bath. I thought then as I do now that it was a simply perfect idea; the plot itself is tailor-made for an Indian interpretation. Having seen it, I am even more impressed; like Elizabeth Bennet our new heroine, Lalita Bakshi, is an intelligent modern woman in a society undergoing change. Her major motivations go well beyond making a perfect marriage to a rich man.

I cannot think why anyone would be at all concerned by this movie idea. It is a lovely interpretation, and is not even slightly pretending to be a film of the book; to add to all that it makes a fine quality job of what it is intended to be. The screenplay is excellent, adapting much dialogue from "Pride and Prefjudice" while remaining completely convincing in the language of today.

I must also say, it included one of the nicest interpretations of Mr Collins I have ever seen. The excellent actor Nitin Ganatra plays Mr Kohli (Kohli Sahib), an Indian now living in the US and completely obsessed with and enjoying every minute of his new American way of life. He is clearly hard-working and keen for others to enjoy everything with him. Although clearly a figure of fun, he offers a plausible reason for a modern audience to understand why Lalita's best friend Chandra would choose to marry him - she justifies her choice by saying he is "a good man" and there is more than appears on the surface. Her equivalent Austen character Charlotte Lucas rather more poignantly illustrates the plight of the plain unmarried woman in her society, by expressing her fear that she may not get a better offer. This may also be true of modern India (for plain women of a certain class), I don't know; however a Bollywood musical shows only beautiful actors, so they did not explore that idea.

Now you must read a proper review - I read this after my own ramblings and am delighted that it expresses much my own views. I could be a reviewer!! ... but for the small fact that my command of the language is not so adept.
"...these shortcomings .... are largely irrelevant to the merit and entertainment value inherent in Bride and Prejudice. .... this film is no more than a clothesline on which brilliantly colored bed linen and clothing has been hung out to dry and which are now dancing in the wind, creating fantastic displays of movement and images. This film deserves to be viewed from a fresh perspective. Yes, Austen's novel has been bowdlerized into pulp, but the shards have been turned into flares illuminating another purpose altogether."

Finally - the real disaster. I spent many hours, including those watching the above film, knitting the cricket sweater. I completed a 4 inch welt,(all in the round, so the whole sweater), changed to a second ball of the other dye lot, and knitted 2 more inches. I realised suddenly in full daylight that the colours of the two dyes are completely different from one another. One is a positively yellow ecru, and the other much more white. I find it amazing that this was not obvious in the ball - but it was not. Further, I did some weighing and calculations and am dubious that there will be enough wool for the sweater. So - I have had to go back to the attic stash; I have found eleven 50g balls of the same wool type and started all over again. I only hope Lloyd is still interested in cricket next year as it seems unlikely that this project will be completed in time for any play this season.....

I am thinking that these disastrous dye lots experiences of late should be teaching me something. I have done this kind of stuff often in the past but since my teenage years I always found dyes to be very consistent, even between lots. I am thinking back and wonder if the difference is that in the past I often worked with shetland tweedy blends which better lend themselves more to the intended trompe l'oeil effect than plain colours. I think if I plan to try this again I will definitely be knitting experimental swatches before I start.

Posted on July 20, 2007 at 7:20 AM

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Friday July 6, 2007

So cool it's chili

The first Fashion Knits (1954) magazine arrived in the mail today and showed that the inspiration for the knitted fashion poncho started long before the 1970s - let me know if you'd like one...

poncho.jpg Slim.jpg


It also contained a pattern for "Slim black line", classic sleeveless sweater - "an essential in the well-dressed wardrobe" - "in fine wool to fit smoothly under coats and low neck sweaters".

However, having been initially keen (looks lovely - just my thing), I looked at the tension and I'm afraid it's an essential I will have to pass up. It's knitted on number 14 needles (I guess US 1) to a tension of: 46 sts to 4 inches!! [Cast on 155 sts and knit 4 inches in k1 p1 rib...... um... thanks - but no thanks]. Also it says "see how smart the sweater looks worn casually with slim black pants and pumps" - which might be an issue for me...

Posted on July 6, 2007 at 6:06 PM

Comments

The black sweater and slim pants is a super outfit, but one probably needs the waist to go with it. I laughed at the tension...I struggled to get to 32 sts over 4" on 2mm needles, cant imagine how you would ever get 46. I guess its a case of how you get the look of acrylic in lovely handknits!

Posted by: Alison on July 8, 2007 10:49 AM

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Thursday July 5, 2007

Serious shopping

I went to Oxford yesterday and thought I might do some shopping after my meeting but in the end I had no time. I had made a plan to look for some specific items, so to cover the disappointment I went to John Lewis in Kingston - where I found they had the sale to end all sales - mostly in the wool dept but more of that in a minute - and between there and Bentalls I came away with huge bags of swag.

FloralSkirt.jpg Most of the clothes I bought were sensible - in that they are replacements for items in my wardrobe that are a bit shabby - but I also bought this Fenwright and Manson skirt, which is lovely but I remain unsure about it, as it contains colours that are not "my" colours, and I had great difficulty in imagining what to wear with it. GreyTop.jpg In the end, I bought an uninteresting elephant grey top from the same source as it is an exact matching colour; the other colours in the skirt (rust and cream) are not so flattering on me. I noted that the grey Rowan 4ply soft is a good colour match but do not want to put a hand knitted top on the critical path to wearing the skirt. To brighten the grey top I added a chunky bead necklace

I also bought what seemed like a ton of wool - actually it still does seem like a lot but at exactly half price it was a veritable bargain, and not all new projects on a whim either. First up is Debbie Bliss Astrakhan....

Astrakhan.jpg

....which I have been ogling ever since the Ally Pally show last year,. However, to date I have been hopelessly indecisive about the colour, and unwilling to take a risk with such expensive wool: but not with a limited palette on sale - sold! to the lady with the red fetish...
In fact I am planning to knit this for someone else but I note it may be a good colour match for the new skirt. Hmmm.

Cathay.jpg They had Debbie Bliss Cathay on sale in many wonderful colours. I find this a very appealing yarn, with a texture and composition similar to Calmer, but in a classic double knitting weight.
Despite being so smitten I managed to restrict myself to two colours: a burnt orange, which I am hoping will be suitable for a retro pattern from Jane Waller's "Mans Book", and the red for me, probably an Interweave knits pattern from last summer (it just fails to quite match the new skirt, and in consequence is a nice colour for me!).
The oatmeal colour is again a double knitting wool, Jaeger extrafine Merino DK; I was seduced by the lovely wool quality, (the price!), and the suitable Man Colour (or George Colour).
And just in case I don't have enough knitting books I bought the Jaeger knitting book for men too, as it was also on sale.

Orford.jpg


In the latest Rowan book 41, I really liked Orford - but unlike all those little 1950s tops it's made in Rowan Cotton Rope which as its name suggests is quite thick. So I thought it might be a bit heavy for a "little top". In addition, being thick heavy cotton, it used lots of balls of yarn, making it quite pricey.
But hey presto! Cotton Rope at half price! (and so quick to knit up...).

I am digging those red shorts out of my wardrobe as we speak.

Posted on July 5, 2007 at 9:46 PM

Comments

Yum, vicarious JL sale shopping! I love the skirt, and if the photo is a good representation of the colour, I like the elephant grey too.

Posted by: Alison on July 8, 2007 10:46 AM

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Tuesday July 3, 2007

Swallows and Amazons (for ever?)

Even though Alison didn't tag me (whatever that is - pretty sure she didn't) I can't resist also displaying my all time favourite piece of hand knitting. It reaches the status of all-time favourite for a lot of strange reasons which run alongside my really loving to wear it. Like Alison's Hall of Fame alphabet sweater, I knitted in it the early 1990s, and the style is full blown 80s as she describes. All the feelings associated with this sweater are full of pleasure and comfort.

Amazon.jpg

First the memory of the purchase: Alison and I bought the wool together at D H Evans in Richmond; (she bought wool for a Rowan patterned chenille/beaded sweater which did not turn out so well for her - though I loved it too!). They had "my" sweater knitted up on display - and I loved it - and then even better - the wool was on sale (sadly due to the demise of the wool department, though).

Second the design and styling: it's a Rowan pattern from book number 10 which was evidently themed on Swallows and Amazons (although Nancy, Peggy and Co were a lot sexier in the photo shoot than I remember from the original books!). These books probably rate among my all-time favourites as well (yes, I am the sort of adult that reads Harry Potter, I'm afraid). The Rowan book seems to have had a lot of fun poked at it - but they have the last laugh maybe as one sold on eBay in 2006 for over 80 quid (maybe I should sell my copy...? ... as if!).

I also knitted the "domino" sweater from this magazine for Robert - in fact I suspect he never wears it now due his wool allergy. Maybe I will be able to snaffle it back for the ultra nostalgia experience...

A word on the wool:

I love the sweater so much I thought you might want to appreciate that it also has texture. The overall wool weight is double knitting (worsted): the main colour is a grey tweed; half the bow ties are in red pure wool double knit, and the other half are in fine chenille; the mustard/gold triangles are also in fine chenille. Mmmm.

Posted on July 3, 2007 at 4:50 PM

Comments

Gosh - I remember you knitting that - seemed that you knitted it awfully fast. Anyway - despite the 80's styling it still looks really nice.

Posted by: Alison on July 5, 2007 5:08 PM

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Wednesday June 27, 2007

Greener grass

I am a bit tired of current projects (and some got themselves finished even!) - and in need of some mindless stuff to work on while traveling, or in front of the TV - so I have kicked off a few new things.

CableSocks.jpg George expressed an interest in "perhaps more socks" or "just some socks" and as he seems so fond of his woollen Web-of-Wool socks these days, I thought I would try knitting some "proper" mens socks (circa 1950 maybe) in sober manly colours for his birthday. I will try to use up some of the Patons Nylox from the attic/eBay purchases - but to start with, I want to knit black, which I don't have. I saw recently that Sirdar now make a 4ply sock wool (strange really as in my local store it is only stocked in boring mens sock colours but... good for my purpose).

Leaf.jpg For myself, I finally dug out some excellent purple heathery colour (vintage) wool to knit the embossed leaves socks that I had previously attempted with a self-striping wool before I decided it was not suitable. They look really pretty, and I am really enjoying knitting them.

MaidenOver.jpg And last but not least: while we were in France Lloyd (our neighbour) expressed an interest in having a cricket sweater. He said "without sleeves" and then muttered something about being more likely to get it without sleeves, which considering he doesn't know me I thought was rather presumptuous....! He plays cricket every weekend (although I suspect there is a femme fatale - or it is to be hoped not actually fatale - at the bottom of it all), and is such a nice chap I am delighted to oblige. Even better it struck me that I could use some of the huge collection of Guernsey wool I was unable to stop myself collecting; I have a lot of smaller amounts - not-enough-for-a-whole-sweater amounts (or as advertised "enough for a child's guernsey"!) - and I found 400g of Wendy guernsey in ecru which should work out fine - despite finding that one of the balls is not actually the same dye lot (!). As you can see I have made a start...

Posted on June 27, 2007 at 2:05 PM

Comments

A cricket sweater is a wonderful idea...hmm might have to knit one myself. Not much sofa knitting happening here - no rain and not too hot either. That's my opportunity - high summer when its too hot to go outside and we can all sit in air conditioned comfort and watch a movie...and I can knit.

Posted by: Alison on June 29, 2007 7:36 PM

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Thursday June 7, 2007

Tiger's eye

I have started work on Tobias. Yes, I know I have a few other things to work on but....

tobias_start.jpg

I started (conventionally) with the back and was very puzzled at the lack of instructions about the exciting zig-zag chart. After applying a lot of brain power I realised that the back is plain - or rather has stripes and texture - but no zig-zags. So I then decided to knit the front first (more exciting). Once finished I expect I will pack it all away - the challenge will be over. [I am a bit better at knitting finishing stuff I make as presents though, so maybe not.]

I had to back a few rows as I made some mistakes; I was watching TV and found it fascinating. It was "Mary Queen of Shops" and it was all about turning around the fortunes of a "ladies dress shop" in our local village. It was a great program and I really hope the shop survives. I have to say that although I am its exact target market, it is not my sort of shop - I am too cheap - but I will be venturing in next time I am in the village (which will be tomorrow in fact) ... well maybe the next next time.

I have not had to venture much further than the local fish shop (I like fish) ever since George has been away. However he returns from China at the weekend and I need to get some real food (not fish). He has been attending a conference - today apparently he did tourist things - the Great Wall. I don't really envy him though, hearing about his struggles with jet lag and humidity, (potent super heroes in my experience); and anyway - I like fish.

Posted on June 7, 2007 at 11:17 PM

Comments

Mmmm...summer tweed in autumn colours. It looks really nice even on the needles.

Posted by: Alison on June 8, 2007 5:23 PM

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Wednesday May 30, 2007

Cool - it's all in the wearing

"It seemed like a good idea at the time”

Here we have lessons (for Becks) in retro-cool from Paul Michael Glaser and ... Action Man.

StarskyHutch3.jpg Beckamcardi.jpg actionman.jpg

And here the master of cool: so young as to be hardly recognisable, and then aged 26 with Stitchcraft aiming to make him look about 40....

Roger1.jpg Roger2.jpg

Posted on May 30, 2007 at 7:20 PM

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Monday May 28, 2007

Oxbloods, Swirls, and Bumblebees

I have finished Marble; actually finished knitting it on Friday and it has taken me 3 days to sew it together. Somehow not as I imagined although I can't think why as it is exactly as pictured in the magazine, (though the model did seem a little younger...). I think the marble imagery of my imagination overcame reality; I am thinking Kaffe and I may have had different kinds of marble in mind. Anyway I much enjoyed knitting it, and like wearing it too, so how much better could that be?

Marble.jpg

A word on the Wool
For anyone considering making it - buy only one ball in every colour, and then more as you need it. It knits up quickly (the double thread turned out not to be very hard to manage), and, as it is mixed up throughout, you should not have a problem with unmatched dye lots. The "main" colour, Cheeky (pink), was quoted as 4 balls and I barely started the third ball - that was for the smallest size - and it is a roomy design so the smallest size was plenty for me at a chubby UK size 12. Had I not already bought the third ball I would have used other colours for the side and neck edging. I needed a second ball of Fennel (green) and Bluebell (blue), both of which barely used but still required.

I bought the recommended Rowan buttons for this top - I believe in following designer's .... designs - even though I suspect they are limited by commercial considerations rather than being able to follow their artistic leanings in some cases. I tried to purchase the shell accessories for "Bonita" only to find no sign of any such thing at the suggested website [this is known as the "Delia Smith" effect in mass marketing]. Anyway - the required buttons for Marble cost over seven pounds (!) - compare with the vintage bargains for "Bliss" at 20p.

Posted on May 28, 2007 at 4:23 PM

Comments

It looks great; very summery. And again, pink is such a pretty colour on blondes. ps I wore my Bonita out to dinner at the California Cafe on Friday and it (and I, I hope) looked very nice.

Posted by: Alison on May 28, 2007 8:25 PM

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Pipe and slippers

This is really a message for Alison. Just to show her that on this occasion my mind was not willfully wandering.

cardigan.jpg Some time ago I mentioned I was thinking of knitting a cardigan, or sleeveless cardigan,for my brother-in-law. I had thought I had read an article in one of the colour supplements saying that mens cardigans were now very fashionable. Alison said this was a mistake and they are the pits; I could not find any trace of the article. Anyway, now it seems, they are so very mainstream as to be featured as a topic on Woman's Hour (today); do "Listen Again" - it was pretty amusing

For my brother-in-law? I fear Alison may be correct. He comes from an era where I doubt he will be able to shake off the Val-Doonican-pipe-and-slippers image. And...Alison? I suggest you contribute to the Woman's Hour messageboard - you are not alone.

AyresArt.jpg Woman's Hour today also introduced me to the art of Gillian Ayres; I'm afraid I was (up until now) ignorant of her and her work. She was interesting to listen to - a radio program is not the best medium to demonstrate art work - but of course it encourages you to find out more, and this could not be much simpler in our multi media world. The WH homepage link above currently shows some of the pictures. Apparently, they are typically very large canvases, which does not come over on a small screen.

Famous or "in"-famous?

Beckamcardi.jpg

Posted on May 28, 2007 at 11:30 AM

Comments

Gosh, I knitted a cardi for John like the one Becks is wearing (but in black) at his request. If that does not tell volumes about cardigans - I dont know what will!

Posted by: Alison on May 29, 2007 3:48 AM

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Tuesday May 22, 2007

Bliss

While I was in Germany, my extra ball of wool to complete Bliss arrived, (from what used to be "Shoreham Knitting and Needlecraft" shop but is now also a website called English Yarns).
Now it's finshed and here I am - all blissful:

Me-in-Bliss.jpg

I used some vintage buttons from my hoard - the photo does not do them real justice - they are a lovely antique gold colour. I bought them from our village antiques fair; an ancient lady there always has a veritable treasure trove (she clearly cares about buttons) and I am a regular buyer from her. These were a bargain at only 20p !

buttons.jpg

In the same package was some Rowan handknit cotton in a new shade "Spanish Red". It is the perfect colour for my Short and Sweet project for G's Mother, altough it does not quite have the rich lustre of the Phildar yarn I used previously.

RedWool.jpg

Posted on May 22, 2007 at 1:04 PM

Comments

You, and it, look lovely. That's a flattering colour on blondes!

Posted by: Alison on May 22, 2007 4:48 PM

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Saturday May 19, 2007

Maxime's rediscovered

Today - during the FA cup final (match went to extra time and Chelsea made it 1-0 at the 11th hour for those who are interested) - I went on a small tour of wool shops in the area, that I have heard about but not yet visited.

First up was Whichcraft in Cheam. They are listed as a Rowan stockist but did not have what I needed (4ply cotton - I need a couple of balls to finish Marble). Apparently they are currently ordering stocks of everything and thus a little low it seemed. But a delightful shop and I shall certainly go there again - although probably telephone first to check availability. I bought a 4.5mm crochet hook just to show willing.

Second was Maxime's, which used to be in Banstead High Street; I was devastated when I saw it had closed. However,it seems it has relocated to Carshalton - which is not quite so convenient, but nice to know it is still trading. The original owners (a delightful elderly couple) retired and sold the business.
Of course, it no longer has the old-fashioned wool shop feeling with wool toppling out everywhere and a peculiar treasure trove of ancient stock; all that is replaced with the new clean lines wool shop image - less stock of course. They had Rowan 4ply cotton in only one colour (Fennel), which luckily was one of the ones I need; even more amazing it happened to be the same dye lot, but that mattered less.
Looking at Maxime's website I see they have a knitting group - I may try and go along although I have little time. I even skipped Creative Fibres today; they were doing a workshop on papercraft (and after a week away I wanted to knit!).

GreenWool.jpg Sadly, despite hugely increasing my carbon footprint in searching for wool, neither shop will stay in business if they have to rely on me (one ball of wool and a crochet hook). Still - you can only support so many woolshops that don't stock what you need.

Once back at home, I ordered a strange set of odd balls of wool from Janette's Rare Yarns, including the extra ball of 4 ply cotton. Janette sells in dollars in her eBay shop, and her prices seem very reasonable.

Posted on May 19, 2007 at 10:29 PM

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Monday April 9, 2007

"Grasp it like a man of mettle"

I spent an idyllic Easter Monday, knitting another pair of fetching mittens.



These are for Ava. I have used a Rowan tweed aran wool in grey - not exactly funky but she did express a liking for "grey and earth tones" - and I thought it might be a practical colour for one who works on the land, as opposed to the eau de nil colour, in which I knitted a pair for Diane.


The weather has been simply fabulous since we've been here and there has been lots of gardening. I am pleased to note that it took me no time at all to weed the beds and generally tidy the garden. I am hoping this is a sign of persistence rewarded (previous bouts of weeding, I mean).

My current task is pulling all the nettles out of the raspberry canes. It's very satisfying work; the nettles are very old with huge thick roots, so you just have to loosen the soil and carefully tug them up, but you get stung a lot as well (despite leather gauntlets, thick trousers, and Wellington boots). The roots go for yards - right out into the grass - and of course, there is no hope of removing every last piece, which is really what's required, but I have had a lot of success with another area of the garden and expect to be able to eradicate them from the raspberries as well. It is hopeless leaving them, as it makes picking the raspberries impossible without serious nettle rash. As a Desk Johnny I find this exercise back breaking so am doing a little at a time; however I may need to accelerate my timetable as I think the weather is turning. The nettle story so far:

The scrapings are where I have removed nettles. The very pale green bits nearest the camera are the raspberries - the rest is still nettles.

Posted on April 9, 2007 at 9:25 PM

Comments

Glad to see the little cat helping. I'm sure that she did most of the work (well the most important part: directing your efforts). The lavenders look lovely against the stone of the cottage.

Posted by: Alison on April 14, 2007 4:55 PM

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Friday April 6, 2007

"O you do like to amuse yourself, don't you?" [My Father]

I started to knit something from the Erika Knight book "New Knits" that I bought last year - the one of the knitted Aran chair cover. Two things in it appealed to me - daft yet lovely though all the stuff is...

This one is a knitted hanging basket liner, which sounds to me absolutely ideal in a natural knitted fibre (though others seem to find it amusing) as it will hopefully retain water well and gradually rot down to a nice natural colour. At least that is the theory.
Erika has made it in parcel string - I, however, decided to knit it in some really horrid fawn yarn I bought on eBay (don't ask). The yarn is some sort of acrylic 4ply so I had to adapt the pattern with more stitches, and probably it will never rot away, being synthetic... but nice Hessian colour (and texture!).

The perfect thing about this project is (and why there is one finished) is that I can happily knit it in the car in the dark - and it's a long way from Boulogne to Cuves.

Posted on April 6, 2007 at 11:55 PM

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Wednesday April 4, 2007

Gyring and gimbling

George came home from work with a fantastic gift for me. He had dropped in on his parents, and his Father has made me a Niddy Noddy. Isn't it great?

I am simply delighted, but now I really must spin something!

Today was a really fun day - the Niddy Noddy making it perfick, of course. I went on an urgent trip to John Lewis to try and find a remnant of curtain fabric for the French cottage dormer window - it is being replaced and having repainted the bedroom walls, I thought I would try and make a better job of the curtains. In the end I came away with a remnant to cover my kitchen chairs and a lot of wool (!). No curtain fabric, though.
The first yarn is Rowan 4ply cotton to make a Kaffe Fassett design for me from the latest Rowan book. It is called "Marble" and I am so smitten with it I am even prepared to knit 4ply double (which I hate) - it is an essential part of the design to do so as it provides the lovely effect of the marbles used in the children's game. The second lot of yarn is Rowan Summer Tweed to make "Tobias", which I hope will be ready for George's birthday on October; I am not planning to start to right away, as I was not able to get one of the colours - and I have Furrow to complete first!

I completed Fliss's dishcloths ready for the New Kitchen, which is due for completion in May. The yarn is again courtesy of Alison in the US, and her Mother, who ferried it over the Atlantic for me. The dishcloth patterns are from the left "Mason and Dixon Ann", "Little Houses", and "Alex" (available on-line at Knitting Pattern Central).

Finally, I have been fiddling around with a little project, which might be considered to be more than somewhat eccentric, but amused me nonetheless.
I bought an "odd job lot" of knitting needles on eBay [George: "Good grief, don't you have enough?!"] - but when the seller said "odd" I failed to realise that she meant every single one of them was odd - that is, not a pair. One of them actually matches a really old Aero one already in my possession (which is weirdly fortunate), but the others don't. Some I just put in the needle case as I find extra needles are often useful for projects; others are sitting around while I decide their fates.
Two of them are old Milward's needles, UK size 5s, with matching ends, but of different lengths. They are plastic. I thought about it for a while, and decided I would make them the same length. I have had Milward needles spontaneously lose their ends, so I carefully twiddled the end of the longer one until it turned freely, and carefully prized it off. I then took care to see how much extra I should leave to set into the needle end, and sawed it off to match the other needle. It is my plan to secure the end back on with glue, but it does "pop" back on pretty securely even without glue.


Success!
I have a pair of needles...
...to go with the other million or so in my possession...! In my defence, I mostly have very long needles, because as a student when I bought them, I always went for longer ones in that they would be long enough for any project, and I could not afford one in every length.

Brillig.


Posted on April 4, 2007 at 8:37 PM

Comments

I'm impressed - I'm sure no one in my family would have any idea what a Niddy Noddy was - even if shown one. Dishcloths look nice, hope they are appreciated.

Posted by: Alison on April 14, 2007 4:51 PM

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Monday February 12, 2007

Harder than I remember.

Diane liked the mittens and sent me this cute card.

card.jpg

For me - knitting is much easier than I remember - and I was taught by my Mother, of course. Memories of winter evenings by the kitchen range. And - no - I am not claiming to be so very old but my childhood was a little Dickensian, for all that.

Posted on February 12, 2007 at 9:18 AM

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Sunday February 11, 2007

A day of rest.

What would have been my Dad's birthday (were he still with us), and a day I had planned to spend on a family outing. As it was, I chose not to spread my germs to all my relatives and retired gracelessly to bed. In consequence, the Jaywalker socks were finished prematurely; Alison kindly gave me my instructions, and the wool (Lorna's laces) for my birthday and now here I am wearing them. I like the way that by happy accident the stitch count has produced a sort of spiral stripe around the leg. I lengthened the socks, but really this is not a good idea for this pattern as there is no calf shaping, and for me they have turned out a little like support stockings. Much more flattering length for the chubby calf, though.
I sacrifice all for elegance.

jaywalkers.jpg

I started these socks last Tuesday when I went to the National theatre - I know how to enjoy an evening out - how cultured I am.

jcottesloe.jpg cottesloedetail.jpg

Posted on February 11, 2007 at 6:51 PM

Comments

Your jaywalkers are great! Glad to see it worked out so well. I dont get your point about knitting at the theatre - are you implying that this is in some way odd?

Posted by: Alison on February 17, 2007 10:16 PM

Socks look fantastic.
Photos are good too. Must get to grips with our camera some time. Lx

Posted by: lyn on February 19, 2007 10:41 AM

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Sunday February 4, 2007

Trashing, stashing, and rehashing.

The 500 polythene bags turned out to be 1000 polythene bags -and apparently they are "food safe" - so that's OK then....Multifiunctional.

I have spent a fruitful day repacking and labelling what I may now fashionably refer to as my stash. It is now cleaner and tidier and better organised. But sadly - no smaller.

Once upon a time, it was obviously my plan to spend all my free time (for ever) knitting socks - in sober manly shades apparently. I discovered that I am already well on my way with a half-knitted sock in 3ply "Littel Dorrit" (shade: nutty brown). I have enquired of the sober manly man whether he would wear such socks and had a rather disappointingly negative reply. The ex-manly-man is allergic to wool so that rather rules him out.

Posted on February 4, 2007 at 4:31 PM

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Saturday February 3, 2007

Smitten by Aran.

Egged on by the intense competition from Ferretworld I have also completed my fetching mittens: mittens.jpg
I made them using Rowan Calmer as I had some left over from another project and I am very fond of this yarn. It does knit to an Aran weight tension but is slightly stretchy so on the smaller needles they have come out fairly small, but fit me fine.

This is a very nice pattern. It is very clearly explained and uses a method that has never occurred to me before, (even though I have knitted many gloves in my time), creating the thumb opening by means of a piece of waste wool. They were very satisfying to knit - so much so that I also immediately knitted another pair - for my friend Diane, (who is helping her friends by doing pretty well recovering from her illness and has even started back at work for a few days a week). Diane's birthday is in May but I think she needs mittens right now, even though May in Scotland may be a little chillier than further south.

The designer has reversed the cable pattern on each wrist so that "the cables on each hand will twist fetchingly toward your thumbs". This appeals to my Libran nature (or neurosis) for symmetry. This call to mind the first "real" sweater I ever knitted for myself, which was an Aran. It had two main cables either side of the main panel, and the pattern had the cables twisting in the same direction; I did not make it symmetrical - for all I know it's traditional to have them going the same way -some superstition or other... who can guess?

This is the very Aran here (I am guessing it does not fit me any more...). Click on the picture for a giant view.

I knitted it from specially oiled Aran wool by Patons (Capstan) and it was quite awful. The oil soaked into everything, while knitting it and subsequently when wearing it. After the first outing, I washed it (and my T shirt) thoroughly in soapy water; well, I was never planning to go deep sea fishing in it, after all.

The pattern was from one of the women's magazine in around 1969, which I borrowed from my school friend, (and clearly never returned) and I saw it reprinted in a booklet of "favourites" a few years later. My friend knitted the matching skirt as well as the jumper - and she reversed the cables so they were symmetrical. I attach the picture for your delight, and in addition the perfect 1960s trouser suit, for the complete retro experience.

Aran_suit1.jpg Aran_suit2.jpg

Bet you can't wait to knit that suit..... Just contact me if you need the pattern.

If you squint you might notice that the complete retro price tag was about £3 for the wool. I am not too ashamed to say, that in about 1976 I knitted the man's cardigan for my boyfriend Hamish, (a retro kind of guy - even for then!), who failed to stay my boyfriend long enough to claim it. My brother-in-law somehow took it over, and a few years ago it got "mothed". So I knitted him a replacement in a lovely soft Rowan Aran tweed in grey. The price tag for that was £50.

Posted on February 3, 2007 at 4:28 PM

Comments

Your mittens are indeed very fetching...although in the spirit of competition I must tell you that I have cast on for the 3rd pair! I also adore the trouser suit - but feel that without some serious diet and exercise my days of knitted trousers are long behind me...actually I dont think that I have ever had those days.

Posted by: Alison on February 6, 2007 4:11 AM

I had some (not hand-)knitted, bell-bottomed, trousers when I was about 15. My sister gave them to me and my Mother said "it's no good giving her trousers - she never wears them" at which my sister pointed out that this was not altogether surprising since I did not own any. They were my absolute favourite thing.
For all that, I do remember this Aran trouser suit being much sneered at by us schoolgirls at the time. The skirt suit was not quite so bad - similar (but not Aran) woollen suits were being sold in Marks and Spencer, although M&S was a bit "grown up" and slightly expensive for teenagers - we preferred C&A.

Posted by: Christina on February 6, 2007 9:15 AM

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Thursday February 1, 2007

Aft aglay.

I am full of plans. Which is not so good really as I am still trundling on with a lot of old plans. [In my defence I am exclusively working on "Furrow" at the moment, and am half way up the front - it looks good and I have become more used ot the strange technique].

Yesterday, while I was at work, 500 polythene bags were delivered - the box was rather larger than I had imagined. The intention is to repack and organise my impressive collection of (vintage) wool and hopefully weed out those half-knitted projects which are unlikely to ever be completed. Not that I think I have 500 packs of wool (we'll see) but they were only supplied in units of 500. I am also anxious to make good use of my new Dymo labelling machine (birthday gift), making it easier to find that perfect little ball of wool that I stored away in 1981.

Posted on February 1, 2007 at 6:50 PM