Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Secrets and Serendipity

It's that time of year again. A time when so many crafty bloggers go under-cover.

Baby Suri and Merino DK... for what? whom?

While I rather disdain the idea of even getting out my Christmas book and beginning to plan shopping and cooking, when it comes to hand made presents October is the time to begin if one is to avoid what The Yarn Harlot calls 'IT'

Blue Sky Alpacs' Royal Alpaca 4ply for a crafty garrett

Now 'IT' is the deluded state of mind where the knitter declares she can knit faster than she ever has before and insists every day suddenly has 24 available knitting hours. Two years ago I totally succumbed to 'IT' and imagined I could knit four pairs of black socks with a fairisle design of my own devising around the top in addition to several other presents.  I finished one pair and have since finished a second.  I think that tells you everything you need to know about my yuletide sense of optimism

But the real problem with It Being That Time Of Year Again is that, despite all the knitting going on, as (I say hopefully!!!) many of my nearest and dearest read this blog and I insist on presents being surprises I can't talk about it here, only tease a bit.

Silk and Alpaca from Paris for a crown

However, branching out a bit I have had some sewing success. Last week found me wandering around a local Christmas fair.   I have to confess it was all a bit boring with some stalls selling the same overpriced stuff I had seen and rejected at the summer fair. I don't include yummy food sellers, I was delighted to buy more smoked chicken breast and dragon sausages from the black mountain smokery.  I also absolutely support true crafters receiving a fair price for all their hard work, but I'm not interested in clothes that are bought in and marked up heavily, 'handmade' greeting cards or jewellery that consists of a bit of bead threading.  Then I spotted this...

A velvet coat, covered in top stitching and lined in fancy print. A fabulous coat that thinks it is an anorak - perfect.  And, a sneaky picture grabbed; I felt sure I could make, not a copy, but my own version of a glam parka.

With a little bit of this (all materials and pattern, total cost £50)

And this

And this

And this

I have this

Very pleased I am too!



Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Small Wool Gathering

Forgive me for the silence since completing the Right As Rainbow baby cardi KAL.  It was such fun being part of the KAL but at times a little frustrating having to hitch a ride on the wifi in cafes and bars while on holiday.  That sort of wifi, while fine for checking facebook and e mail is not really powerful enough to do lots of uploading.  However I did continue to upload photographs to Blipfoto so if you would like to see more pictures of Paxos, have a look here.

Ancient terraces where vines used to grow and a tiny secluded beach where (in days when the sexes were strictly segregated) the girls could go and bathe

Kathleen has blogged about the end of the KAL and prize winners over here.  Sally won the prize for the most creative interpretation of the pattern with this zingy coloured cardi

Meanwhile, although not blogging I have been knitting.  In particular preparing for A Very Exciting New Project.  This may need a little explanation. 

If you have ever read my biography here on the blog you may have noticed that I am a lawyer by day and a knitter by evenings (and on trains!). Well big changes happened at the end of July when I became a retired lawyer and changed my occupation on LinkedIn to 'Independent craft consultant' - they don't have any occupation described by anything as simple as 'knitter' .  What this actually means is that in future I shall be:-

  • Knitting more
  • Practising my spinning - I aim to spin up the coats of the Kingsclere four and knit a coat! Ambitious? Moi.
  • Move all my crafting work, multiple stashes and equipment to my (soon to be) converted garage
  • Run small crafting courses in same
  • Launch The Small Crafters

The last action is already up and running in prototype form and this is what I want to tell you about today.  The Small... Is a partnership with my friend Jenny.  We plan to run weekend retreats for crafters, knitters, spinners, sewists and even would be artists. And the first weekend is the 11-14 October (that's in 9 days time - eeeep!)

We are not doing this alone, we have the help of Fabulous Alli and Wonderful Kathleen and essentially we are a bunch of friends, alumni of the Welsh knitting retreat P3/Gwlana.   We have even secured the Amazing Amy Singer, editor of Knitty magazine to give three seriously interesting classes.  So it's no wonder we booked out in less than a week of announcing that we had found the perfect venue in the lovely Peddington Manor.

However despite the full house (with others sleeping at local B&Bs and  joining us daily at the Manor for all the fun) life being what it is, one amazing woman who was flying all the way from Texas to be with us has had to cancel.

So we have a double room at the Manor vacant for one person or two sharing.

You can read all about the weekend, which we are calling The Small Wool Gathering HERE . All the details, including pictures of the beautiful Manor inside and out, cost and how to contact us if you would like to come (or even be on our mailing list for future events) are there.

We would love you to join us.

And on the needles? Well there is a dress code for The Small Wool Gathering Saturday night dinner and its 'wear something glamorous and hand knitted'. I have made Citron in Tilly Thomas beaded silk mohair . 

That's not 'ON' the needles I hear you cry it's 'OFF'.  So it is!  I also have this to show you, it's a WW2 inspired cardigan.

it's in Juno merino sock

I've swatched!  The cable pattern runs up the centre back

the button holes are neatly hidden within the cable button band

And am away! knitting fronts and back together in one piece until I reach the armholesI intend it to be the key item on which I base my all handmade winter wardrobe. 

But for now it's set aside as I prepare for The Small..  Today was wine tasting day (ordering it by the case)  then Jenny and I hit the supermarket with a massive shopping list and I spend much of next week baking cake and biscuits to fuel the knitters at every break!  I'll be reporting back on how it goes in a little over a week

isn't this the perfect place for a knitters retreat?

there are quiet place to sit and knit

and a cosy Aga in the kitchen

and much more besides.  It would be wonderful if one or two people who read this want to join us but even if you are only just vaguely interested please let me know in the comments and I will include you in our mailing list for future events.