Tuesday, 21 October 2014

at last! an FO

If you follow my blog regularly you are forgiven for wondering if I ever finish anything. So in case you do think this today I give you The Finished Object! My Waterlilly from the spring edition of Pompom Quarterly.

True this is the pretty top everyone was talking about in early spring and I'm a little late in coming to the party, but it took me a little while to make my mind up on what yarn to use. I first bought this yarn from the Natural Dye Studio when I was at unravel in March

And then I made the (unusual for me) decision to buy the correct yarn, Islington from Linda of Kettle Yarn when I visited her stand at WonderWool Wales

photograph copyright Kettle Yarn

And even then did not begin to knit the pretty top till September just as the weather got cooler

But in the end it took me only two weeks to knit, I learned a new technique, the Latvian braid (the corded row in cream below) and then the lace pattern was super easy to follow.

I'm delighted with it and as I like to layer up my clothes in winter (how often do we go from freezing outdoor temps to warm centrally heated rooms then feel the tiniest draft behind our necks?) it is going to be perfect.

I'm so glad I used the correct yarn, it is so drapery with a beautiful soft sheen and the colour is perfect for me. I used a scrap of Rowan pure silk DK for the braid which helps it to stand out from the 4ply Islington.

I have lots more on the needles but, you know the problem at this time of year? If I tell it will spoil several people's surprises. And then there's the question of what I shall make with the Natural Dye Studio green and purple mix...



Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Full Marks Saturday

What influences your decision on whether or not to take a knitting class? Content? Venue? Teacher? or, perhaps because a friend asked you to go with her and you just thought it would be a fun day?

On Saturday I scored 5/5  The class was on something very close to my heart - a technique with a complete absence of sewing up.

It was held at my favourite on line shop Purlescence.

So much more than simply an on line shop. They hold open days (the next one is 6 December), have a stand at almost every yarn show in the country, organise KALs and fab workshops.  And at the risk of sounding like their publicity officer (which I'm not, just a happy customer) they serve home made cakes at the events they host at their Wantage HQ.

Next time I'm there I MUST photograph some of the yarns they stock (which include Sweet Georgia, Fibrespates, Hand Maiden and Natural Dye Studio) but for now here are some of the totally beautiful tools from Lantern Moon that I have bought there in the past.

Cable needles, DPNs and 3.5mm straights (the only exception I make to my almost total use of cables)
But back to the workshop and our teacher the awesome Asa Tricosa (it's handy to remember awesome as her name, Asa, is pronounced Awe-ser!) super draftswoman, mathematician and knitter.  She says she is not a mathematician but how can that be so when her designs could only be created by someone with a highly developed ability to think in three dimensions and manipulate numbers while standing on her head (her designs are knitted from top down).

These sweaters are crafted from a single cast on edge that runs from shoulder to shoulder across the back neck then around the front and down creating a perfectly fitting yoke and pair of set in sleeve heads before taking three directions, one tube for the body and two for the sleeves.  There are curves and shaping along the way and for the advanced knitter the shape is adapted into cardigans of various shapes, some with a modern take on the Wateau pleat down the back (the purist will tell me that a W pleat begins at the shoulders but you know what I mean!), children's sweaters and little sleeveless tops.

But on Saturday we learned the basic ziggurat or zigguratlet, a tiny three month size sweater, less knitting but all the shaping of the grown up version.  Here I have to confess that I had wondered if Asa's beginner class would be too basic for me - how arrogant is that? It wasn't. I ended the day feeling that my brain had had a vigorous workout.

There are lovely little details on the sweaters to denote seams

Add a roll neck

and provide ease at the back of a high neckline

How snugly are these sleeves on a child sweater? (also decorated with brightly coloured bobbles)

Finally, yes, it was a friend who suggested and, yes,  we did have loads of fun including meeting lots of other lovely knitters.



my choice of yarn for the me-sized sweater, (now sadly discontinued ) Faery Wings* by Fibrespates

*but Hand Maiden create beautifully coloured yarns from the same base, Maiden Hair, also sold by Purlescence

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

What a day we had

My first ever yarn crawl! I know it was over a week ago and perhaps I should have reported back last week but... well... it was partly that last week was mad, so much to do and partly because I wanted to be able to share the amazing totals with everyone. so here they are

90 people, guided by 17 volunteers, travelled 9 different routes, visited 12 shops, knitted 149 items* and raised £812 for the charity Refuge.

Isn't that amazing? However, the official blog leaves out one crucial figure - How much did everyone spend?? But perhaps that is best left a secret between the yarn crawlers and their banks!  I was guiding Team Jacob along with Kate .  The first thing I noticed when we met for breakfast at a lovely cafe called The Kitchen Table, close to our first stop The Village Haberdashery was the lovely hand knits everyone was wearing

Elanor and Lucy in The Village Haberdashery, wearing their hand knits

Kate our other leader, with Lucy and one of the lovely ladies at The Village Hbberdashery
 At each shop everyone was so friendly and welcoming.  Our next stop was the Handweavers Studio. I must have been so distracted by the wonderful colours, spinning and weaving equipment (not to mention the coffee and biscuits) that I forgot to take a photograph there.

I loved the yarn Rhona was knitting into a baby jacket

If you are going to Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green and happen to be a little peckish, there is a fab little place called The Larder right opposite. The menu is amazing, I had bruschetta with a spicy ratatouille and a little pot of mixed beans, Although I resisted pudding, it was a very tough choice, the Red Velvet cake looked fab

Putting my knitting down to eat lunch at The Larder 
Prick Your Finger has some wonderful unusual yarns and quite a vintage theme going on

Moira and Steph checking out the 70s patterns

And - look! how they wrapped my yarn purchase

Last stop, Knit With Attitude. Amongst other things I bought were some gorgeous stitch markers.  Then left them at the after party!! Thanks to the power of twitter I found them again!

Loved their extensive stock of yarn by Wool And The Gang
Of course we had goodie bags with beads and badges, skeins and soak and much more

about half of what I found in my goodie bag!
OK, I'm not going to tell how much I spent but here are a few photos of what I came home with...

Destined to be a very traditional shetland ring shawl but shall I dye it or leave it natural?

Malabrigo Sock, just because the colour is gorgeous

Patterns to knit up and sew

Sheepie spots, just because...
Like it?  Save the date, next year it's on 5 September



* 150 I have just finished my contribution

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Yarn crawling

You have heard of pub crawling, once the staple of freshers weeks (perhaps it still is) and stag nights, before they became stag weekends and chaps had to jet off to places like Amsterdam or even Riga.  

Well this Saturday if you are in London look out for yarn crawlers (you can even join them if you are quick).

It's the day of The Great London Yarn Crawl

Nine groups of knitters (Romney, BFL, Swaledale, Cheviot, Jacob, Wensleydale, Shetland, Suffolk and Teesdale) will be knitting their way around yarn shops by train, tube and bus.  A little footwork will also be involved, I for one would like to see if I can knit walking! Maybe not! But one thing's for sure I am taking this project as there is nothing like plain rounds of knit stitch when you want to chat and int at the same time. It's the Waterlilly sweater from the spring edition of Pom-Pom Mag knitted in Kettle Yarn Co's beautiful Islington in Old Smoke colourway

Each group will be properly looked after by two well briefed guides.  This is us at Sunday's briefing meeting.

There will be goodie bags

And an after party, sponsored by the awesome Pom-Pom Mag

The whole thing is the brain child of Alli and Rachel of Yarn In The City and all net proceeds are donated to Refuge a charity that provides a safe place for women and children escaping domestic violence

Hope to see some of you are going to be there (do please let me know in the comments if you are)



Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Summer of quilting

Quite some while ago when I was listing the projects I had on the go I mentioned I was making a quilt for  a wedding present.  So today I have finally got around to the reveal

But first (patience!) the result of last week's giveaway - I used this random number generator, I know there are clever on line gizmos that I could use but as there are 8 people who commented on last week's post I decided to use what I had to hand this afternoon

(he is too little to know his numbers and he is better looking than a website).  The winner is Cathie who was the fifth person to comment.   This lovely skein of Madelinestosh, Tosh Merino Light in the  Thyme colour way is on its way to her.

So! Back to quilting...  I have a lot of books on quilting but when I went through all the designs it was obvious really, a double ring quilt for a wedding present.  I mentioned some while ago that I have known the bride since she was 6 and she became friends with one of my daughters.  I have watched her come through a couple of tricky times and grow into a lovely young woman with a beautiful family, I really wanted to make her something special to mark her marriage to a lovely man and celebrate her happiness.

My daughter helped me choose the fabric (I was very nervous about this as her home is beautiful, immaculately furnished in shades of cream and silver grey and she has very decided ideas on home decoration)

 I WAS slightly nervous introducing so much colour

some investment in tools (templates, a cutting mat and cutting wheel) was necessary

cutting out the individual shapes was almost the biggest job

a dry run - I was just dying to see what the colours looked like together

my favourite glass head pins placed at right angles to the line of stitching

ridiculously excited to see how the sections match perfectly where the rings intersect

measured on the top of my bed to see if big enough to begin the border

After machine quilting I love finishing off the edging hemming by hand





the beautiful bride

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

As Temperatures Rise

Is it really six weeks since my last blog post? SIX weeks???  I've been away, well that's usually no excuse, generally when I'm going to be on holiday I plan ahead  and I blog... something, but this time I failed. Plenty of reasons but no excuses, it's just that it was so hot, 32deg in the shade and, well, I've done azure sea, blue blue skies, cats and goats blogs before and I was just so relaxed under the shade of an olive tree with a frappe cappuccino in my hand. Get the picture?

Or maybe a greek coffee

Seriously, though, do any of you manage to knit when temperatures soar above 30? Please tell all in the comments, do you still knit, and what do you knit?  I know some of you lovely readers actually live in places (parts of the USA and Australia come to mind) where half the year it is hotter, and even more humid, than the Greek Ionian Islands in August for weeks at a time.  So what do you do? Knit or not? And what fibre?

I did think - a bit- about what I would take with me knitting-wise and completed one item, the Hedy Lamar fingerless gloves. They are from my friend Kathleen's lovely new second volume of her series Silver Screen Knits (SSK, get it? Clever huh?)   I may have already mentioned that Kathleen and I did a mini yarn swap back in May/June time.  We were having lunch and she admired my Mind-The-Gap socks and mentioned that the yarn from Trailing Clouds was like gold dust.  Well I had a second skein so we decided to do a swap and as I wanted to make Hedy's gloves Kathleen would dig in her stash and send me something suitable in green.  Kathleen was not sure she had the right weight, the pattern calls for something between lace and sock weight, so she sent me all this!

I chose the Pagoda Lace, 55% silk/45% cashmere from Neighborhood Fiber Co (the colour way is Anacostia) because the fibre mix of cashmere and silk is sooooo gorgeous. And because it is a true lace weight I set about swatching to get something like the right size and shape.  The gloves are in a lovely stitch pattern that looks a little like fishnet but the shaping is very simple.  I calculated I needed about 30% more stitches to get the right size but would leave the shaping pretty much the same as being slightly wider at the wrist would be fine for me and length would not be a problem as I could try on as I knitted

I really could only knit in the early morning. Not a problem as I love getting up early on holiday, I love the peace and quiet of the time before everyone else gets up. And by that, I include the chirruping insects that began as the thermometer on the wall reached 23. 

After about 10 my hands on the needles got sticky and the yarn in danger of fuzzing and it was time for my usual breakfast  of yoghurt, nuts, fruit and honey and to take up my position under a tree or beside the pool with a book.

Or just doze in the sun

Slow progress, but at the end of week three they were done and I began to keep an eye out for a suitable place for their photo shoot.  By this time we had moved islands and discovered the best cocktail bar on Corfu, at the top of the old Venetian fort overlooking the ancient town. And in my hand? Well it had to be something bubbly for Hedy's sake.

What shall I do with the rest of the yarn?  Well, tell us all a little about your summer knitting in the comments section and in a week I will select a winner, using a random number generator, for one of the skeins. I'll name the winner in the next blog post (I'm happy to post overseas)

And watch this space, Kathleen and I were planning a linked pair of blog posts about now but she is a little busy at the moment as William Richard  made a slightly early appearance  right at the end of August, weighing in at a little over 7lb, but when Kathleen is back blogging there will be lots more chat about yarn swapping, sock knitting and perhaps another giveaway!