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!


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dyeing in the garden

Did anyone else read 'dying in the garden' ?  When I received a tex from my friend Jenny saying 'come over on Wednesday afternoon, were dyeing in the garden'...just for one moment...  But it's high summer and her cousin Jo is staying and they both like to cook up some colours in the garden.

I'm not sure whether I am ready to get messy with colours and fibre yet but I do have a new camera (a tiny Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ8)  and it was the perfect afternoon for tea, chat and some snaps.

Apparently dyers do not usually share their secrets and so I have decided this post will be a lot shorter on words than usual and let the photographs (and my new camera) talk for me.

yesterday's fibre drying in the sun

virgin BFL pre-soaking 

dyes mixed and ready to go

some silk (far right) some BFL and some spun (Monet's garden)

spun autumn
and finally more garden colour  inspiration



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Tour de Fleece (or don't talk to me I'm spinning)

When my lovely friend and über expert spinner Porpoisefur asked for folk to join her Tour de Fleece team I hesitated.  I became aware of this world wide spinning event where spinners form teams to spin during The Tour de France and tot up the spinning miles (watching the cycling while spinning is optional) from chat on Ravelry last year but felt far too much of a newbie spinner to think of joining in

After being reassured that entry to the team is at all levels, that everyone will improve by joining in and all we had to do was commit to two things,

  • to spin every day the cyclists are racing
  • to decide on a set of personal goals 


  • share experiences on Ravelry... 

Oh, that's three.

I joined in.  My goal is simply to spin a consistently fine thread that when plyed is knitable, I wanted to make something particularly lovely with this fibre that I bought at WonderWool.

BFL in Alma Tadema colour-way

But there are always un intended consequences.  For the first few days I persevered with my vintage Lendrum.  Despite greasing every moving part I could get access to (as advised by a very helpful lady I met in a yarn store one day). The yarn I produced was very lumpy

Mixed and unknown (to me) fibres

Perhaps it's the fibre and I'm not yet ready for mixed fibres, so I bought this from Porpoisefur, our lovely leader 

Falkland (lower left) Romney (top) Shetland (lower right)

Then I went away for a few days and drop spindling was the only option.  I got on a lot better, this is more fibre from Porpoisefur, baby alpaca in Leaf Peepers colour-way

But there was still the cranky old Lendrum skulking in the corner of my studio that simply would not be mastered.  So I bought a new wheel.  And not just any wheel but a Schacht Matchless.   A rather big investment but it is beautiful.  I nearly said she is beautiful despite not liking anthropomorphism, it almost felt right to give my wonderful new wheel a human personality

I would love to say I am now spinning a fine thread but that will still take time and the yarn is still rather organic.


But by the end of July I have high hopes I shall be producing some very respectable knit-worthy yarn



Wednesday, 9 July 2014

I'm just saying...

how much I love yarn festivals.  Well if you visit this blog regularly you know that already!!  Try as I might I always buy far more yarn than I am ever going to knit before the next event comes along.  So far this year there has been

L'Aiguille en Fete in Paris

My Friend Alli of Champagne & Quivuit choosing some Icelandic Lopi yarn

Unravel in Farnham

I bought fibre too at Unravel

and WonderWool in Wales

My haul from WonderWool

This weekend it is Unwind in Brighton and its VERY SPECIAL in a number of ways.

  • It's its first year

  • I have met the lovely woman, Dani Sunshine who practically single handedly has organised the whole thing

Danni falling in love with some Titus yarn at Wonderwool (and wearing her Veera Valimaki sweater)

  • And finally instead of shop shop shopping I am going to take a couple of classes.  OK I will buy some yarn and fibre but I am also going to Learn Something New.

It's in Brighton (did I already say that?)

It's on 12 - 13 July and all the details are on their website.

So all you have to do is come along!  Do please, there are going to be some lovely people there, lots to see and do and it's going to be one big party, a yarn party!  How perfect is that?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Three Weeks!!!

And no blogging.  I'm so sorry about that but I have been working away in my studio on a very special project.  I can't actually blog The Big Reveal post yet.  I need one more photograph which (for reasons that will become clear in a couple of weeks when I can tell all) I can't take that photograph yet.  However if you follow me on Instagram (and if you don't you can by clicking the button on the right of this post) you may already have a pretty good idea.

a tiny part of the BIG Project

But I have not just been working single mindedly on The BIG Project, I've had a few new ideas and there might have been a little yarn buying and swapping.  I've been taking photographs as I go too so I thought I would share some new beginnings with you much in the way of my ten random things blog of a few weeks ago

1. I got to do a little spinning with my drop spindle

2. I had a light bulb moment about how to use up some stash, including hand spun, (while buying a little more...) I will make an Enchanted Mesa

3. I came upon a pattern for a sock that you begin knitting the top of the instep first, as a lace square on five dpns, then the toe, the sole, the heel...

sock #1 underway

4. There's been a mini yarn swap with my friend Kathleen of KnitLikeYouMeanIt and the lovely SSK knitting pattern books (SSK1 and SSK2). I am going to make the elegant long gloves from SSK2 called Heddy Lamar.  I sent Kathleen a skein of this

AND she sent me these to choose from...

I haven't chosen yet (you can just see the beautiful gloves on the left of the photograph)

Now, which to knit up and which to send back?

5. I am designing a new shawl, based on a very old pattern.  The pattern (and FO) will be on Ravelry soon

6. The waistcoat I made for the WW1 film has been worn and seen in stills for the first time

I made the one in the middle!

7. I am in discussions and swatching for another item for the WW1 film

we will incorporate this old stitch pattern int a large fringed shawl

8. I'm rushing to finish this for a KAL party at the lovely Purlescence HQ on Friday, eeeek!

Lush by TinCan Knits in Sweet Georgia superwash DK

9. And there's this, the little sweater to go with the cardigan, both by Susan Crawford.  I want to wear the set to a workshop with Susan in three weeks (aspirant teachers pet that I am).  So far I've frogged it twice, it was coming out far to large.   It serves me right for using a different yarn but this Angelus from The Natural Dye Studio is like butter - how could I resist?  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will even out when blocked.

10. Finally my holiday prep.  As every knitter knows a new knitting project goes on the list with sun hat, sun cream and strappy top.  At the moment I'm thinking of this, my yarn choice is also from the natural dye studio

The pattern is Water Lilly in the spring edition of Pom Pom Quarterly

So many projects and so little time...



Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Studio, The Reveal

It has been so exciting this week, I had to wait until the flooring was laid on Wednesday afternoon but then I began the trek, carrying bags, boxes, spinning wheel and sewing machines into my new studio.  And there have been lots of little photographs on Instagram 

like this...


And this

It's easy to follow me on Instagram (if you would like to!) by pressing the button at the top of the column on the right of this post.  

I will write a little more detail on how I made some of the things (or more truthfully made over) later but for now, here is a little collection of before and after photographs.  Although I did a lot of painting and the make do and mend all the rest  (and most of the hard work) was down to JTH - he has been a hero!

One end of the garage AKA junk room (the dresser drawers survive behind the curtain)

All that fabulous Ikea storage is now full to bursting

On the right the cupboard which finally defeated me in January, when the stash took over my dinning room  (and now it's back!)

Some of my work, stripping and painting the window frames

These old deed boxes have made a previous appearance, now they are lined with cotton fabric and full of yarn

The old GPO weights, in pounds and ounces are for holding down paper patterns before adjustments

Curtains, made from several charity shop finds and sewn into a 'Liberty meets Mondrian' style to match the window frame

And now I'm off to the studio for my first big project - a double wedding ring quilt for a bride, I have known her since she was six and am so thrilled to be invited to her wedding.

I have not given up knitting but with all this space I can sew in the day and knit in the evenings



one metre of each for the the quilt