Tuesday, 16 October 2012


There are many regional variations of 'dear' the diminutive we use as shorthand for those we love - duck, lover (peculiarly Cornish that one) sweetie, honey, babe, hinny.  (I like hinny in particular , I think it is only used in the North East and must be pronounced with the appropriate accent).  In Welsh it's Cariad, and it was printed on the outside of our goodie bags at the weekend.  On the other side P3 .

It was 3pm on Friday afternoon and we had arrived in Wales for three days of knitting, conversation and love.  Love for knitting, yarn  and for each others knitting efforts - one 31 woman sample of the knitting sorority (and one man, as he said 'there's always one man')

It said in the publicity THERE WILL BE YARN.  And there was

I know we were given 300g of beautiful hand produced yarn (including one skein specially dyed for P3 by Claire at NiMu yarns)  in our goody bag but there was yarn for sale there too - in close up...

Dr Donegal from Countess Ablaze

Faery Wings from Fyberspates

There was also plenty of action at the swift and wool winder

What an amazing group of people.  One session was about what we made, each person bringing a finished object and telling its story.  So much wit and good humour, with tales of a sweater that became a cushion, another knitted during a dark time in someone's life and one that saved a marriage!  When @TreehouseTea brought a beautiful cardigan, the first she had made for herself in years, only to find she had made a mistake in the pattern high on the sleeve, Brenda - said 'Oh we can fix that'

Last year we fitted neatly into a little seating nook in the  garden for our group photo - it was a challenge this year

There's been a little natural population growth too - and one afternoon @KnitLikeUMeanIt sat with baby delicious on her knee knitting.

Brenda's class on how to make a sweater that really fits from a few measurements was magic. Amy showed us how to work with silk hankies, beginning here

via here

by way of here

and here

to make this (it's in half linen stitch, something I had never worked before)

The pattern suggested we made the strip into a cuff, decorated with buttons.  Well I have plenty of these

and made this

Feel the love?  Yes we did



Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Knitty inspiration

I'm off to lovely Wales for P3 at the weekend.  I'm afraid the course has been booked up for ages, but I think it will happen again next year so if you are interested you can keep an eye out by joining the ravelry group.  P3 stands for Plug & Play Pembrokeshire and is the idea of two lovely women Amy Singer, Editor of and Brenda Dayne of Cast-On.  who will also be our teachers.  I had such a great time last year  learning how to design and knit lace, I had to go again.  This year its all about texture and in particular the textures that are used in knitting traditional British sweaters.

I've been checking my welcome letter...

Making sure I have all the kit I need (this is like the first day at school!)

And diverting to Rokka Sheek on my way home from work to replace my lost 3mm knit-pros and medium length cable.  And there, in my 'near work' LYS is where I strayed from the path of fiscal righteousness.  

I have just returned from holiday, as you know.  Now Greece is very expensive, despite, or is it because, of their present troubles.  Lovely but expensive, especially when I just have to bring home delicious Korres cosmetics and pretty jewellery made by local craftspeople.  As part of my post-holiday austerity measures, I promised myself I would not buy any more wool.  After all I know at the weekend there will be lovely surprises in the P3 goody bag and a small but perfectly formed yarn market on Sunday with irresistible yarn from NiMu, Blue Moon and The Purple Purl to mention but three, so I should be saving my pennies.  But I do so want to make something like this (not a pattern that is available anywhere I know.  The picture is from a retail site but I will just cast on and knit, how difficult will that be?) 


And many of you will know how easy it is to loose all will power in the face of soft yarn in perfect colours and the old story of  'it was a bargain' at £2.99 a ball.  The perfect yarn for the job - don't you think?

Soft grey, cream, lettuce and dusty pink in 100% wool soft as soft.

Now... when shall I find time to make the shawl?



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

It's been a while

My holiday knitting is coming along just fine.

I've been away again to my favourite place for seriously unwinding.  Last year it was in Spring this year I had one fabulously hot week in August and then back again for two weeks of autumn sunshine.  It's the first time I have knitted with Norro and I love it.  First there is the self striping sock yarn effect, you know when you just have to keep knitting to see how the stripes will work out.  But also it is more random that the self stripe stuff so you Never Know What Will Happen.  You get bright thick stripes of turquoise and emerald one time around then just a teasingly thin stripe, marled with grey the second time. The texture varies a little too.  Mainly it's lace weight but every so often I come across thick bits - I just carry on knitting.  And the finished texture is wonderful, I cant wait to wear it, but of course I will as I still have to knit the sleeves!

I am aiming for as few seams as possible, knitting back and fronts together till the armholes, grafting the shoulders, and picking up the sleeves from around the armhole and knitting down to the cuffs.  The only sewing will be a short seam at the underarm and when I attach the front button bands.  Although I say I love the random effect I am trying to keep some symmetry as you can see from the fronts in the picture.  I am working out the pattern as I go (so a fair bit of frogging) but will post the pattern on Ravelry when its done and had its first test run (ie blocked, worn and washed)

But I didn't just knit while I was away I had lots of time for reading. I took four books with me all recommended by friends and I'm so glad I just took what they recommended and did not pick and choose which is what I usually do, just taking the novels and ignoring the rest.  The biggest surprise was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot  half biography and half  SCIENCE BOOK!!  I almost never read non fiction, except history and if a book I am reading has a lot of technical stuff I usually skip read 'the science bit'.  I think that is why, despite its banality, I always found that shampoo advert featuring Jennifer Aniston where she says, wagging her finger 'now concentrate, here comes the science bit'  funny because I always do the opposite.  I have always firmly believed that the world's readers are divided into Geeks and Dreamers - those who do numbers and scientific stuff and the rest of us who read about people , stories, and ancient civilisations.  But - no

I'm not really sure if this book will turn me into a Geek, somehow I don't think so, but it was a truly great read.  For years scientists had been trying to culture human cells in the laboratory, so that they could carry out drug trials and understand better how disease affects we human beings but every time they failed.  Then one day in 1951 the laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore USA received a sample of a tumour from a young woman, the mother of 5 children and wife of a hard-working but poor steel worker.  This time the cells grew.  They did not just grow, they kept on growing and although other cells have been grown since nothing, even to this day, grows as well as the HeLa cells. The book also tells the human story, of a young woman, who sadly died less than a year after her cancer was discovered, and her children and grand children.  I won't spoil a good read for anyone, but I cannot quite get over how beautifully written it was.  Rebecca Skloot is a scientist but she is also a gifted writer who is able to explain her craft in a way that this non scientist found fascinating and to write about the lives of others in a wonderfully sympathetic and sensitive way.

But you know what?  when I read her acknowledgements I found this 'My mother, Betsy McCarthy, has never faltered in her belief in me and this book.  She's kept me sane through pep talks, reality checks and the gift of knitting, a family tradition I treasure'.

Oh!... The Gift of Knitting!