Monday, 17 November 2014

WW1 Knitting update

Do you remember my April post about knitting for a community film project? Well, a couple of weeks ago I (and JTH, the cast, crew and over 100 knitters) went to the premiere.  There was such a sense of excitement in the cinema, in fact, so exciting it was that I forgot to take any photographs, so I have borrowed this one from Stewart

I talked about how the film (documenting real lives and losses in a Lincolnshire village during WW1) came about and how I became involved in my April blog post it is a lovely story and as well as reading about it in my previous post you can follow links from there to the film company's website which has been considerably updated since April.

I think that there are still discussions going on about how widely the film will be shown and whether it will all be available on line, but you can watch three little clips on YouTube. The film, focusing on the lives of the Crowder family, is beautifully drawn, the music wonderful and there are moments of real sadness.

But this is a knitting blog and I want to tell you about the work done by the huge team of knitters. Nearly all were recruited by word of mouth after the costumier of the film tweeted a plea for knitters. Elizabeth Lovick of Northern Lace and many other knitters responded and a Facebook group was formed.  Elizabeth with her encyclopaedic knowledge of knitting led the group of knitters who could make costumes for the film project.  The list of knitters on the film's credits was the longest list of all, well over 100, making things from tiny dolls clothes to coats. Practically every item worn in the film is on show in The Collection, a museum and exhibition space in the centre of Lincoln until 6 December

There are literally dozens of sweaters, (you can just see the brown waistcoat I knitted on the left of the third row back)...
sweaters and cardigans in all sizes
over 20 shawls, I also made the dark pink shawl in the middle on the right (more of that later)...

All the shawls
and entire outfits displayed on mannequins

Manequins in full costume

Although as a knitter I felt that the knitting was the star, there are some other lovely things to see at the exhibition, like  Violet's diary, below.  She was a VAD, nursing wounded soldiers in the local hospital, marrying one of the Crowder brothers after the war.

Violet Crowder's war time diary

Not all the costumes were made new for the film, these stunning blouses are vintage

fabulous lawn blouses with beautiful lace and hand stitching

I loved these small items, can you see the rifleman's gloves in the bottom right hand corner, that have thumb and trigger finger exposed?

Hats and gloves made to army regulation patterns

And now, for more excitement,  over 70 of the patterns that were developed for the film are available in a fabulous book, Centenary Stitches.  My copy arrived yesterday!

All our work, in print

But it's not just a book of knitting patterns, it also tells the story of the Crowder family, central to the  story, and lots about the making of the film and the search for contemporary knitting patterns.  I love the way the photograph below of Grace Crowder, the star of the film and the narrator... 

Grace Crowder

 led to Elizabeth Lovick designing a new pattern which closely follows the design of the original

Close up of Grace Crowder's cardigan, designed by Elizabeth Lovick (I love the collar detail)

There is a lovely photograph of the shawl I made in the book too

Pine cones shawl

If you buy this book (and I hope you do) a proportion of the proceeds will go to Combat Stress, the veterans mental health charity and the restoration fund for Thimbleby Church, the church at the centre of the village where the Crowders lived and one of the sets used in the film. You can buy it directly from the Northern Lace website and eventually (when a couple of glitches have been sorted) from Amazon UK as well as in the USA, In fact please do buy it from Northern Lace as this will mean more money goes to these two worthwhile charities

I have loved joining in with this project, it has felt so worthwhile, and lovely to be a part of something big.  Nice too, to see all we knitters acknowledged in the credits of the book as well as the film.  We intend to keep the Facebook page up for a while so that we can show off the projects we have knitted for ourselves from the book.  I am beginning with a hat.



Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Brighton Weekend

Don't you just love it when one of your nearest and dearest (perhaps the least likely one) buys you the perfect present?  Our no 2  son, the youngest in our family of four, is quite funny about birthdays. He regards cards as pretty much a waste of money (he once gave me a beautiful card on a birthday but did not write on it saying he knew I liked getting cards but thought I might like to keep it and send it to someone else one day).  He is delighted to receive presents yet not at all put out if he does not but if he does buy someone a present it is usually very carefully thought out. So as I was away for my birthday this year, and for several weeks afterwards, I was not at all surprised only to receive a text message, three days late, wishing me a happy birthday.

Then after a weekend away with his girlfriend staying with her father in Brighton about four weeks ago he handed me a present, saying he had realised he had forgotten back in August. The present was these four lovely balls of Rowan Fazed Tweed, an alpaca and wool mix.

I don't think R understands the concept of stash and so I wanted to knit something straight away. But, what to make?  It's chunky, I wanted to use every bit of it and blend the colours so it had to be a cowl or infinity scarf, didn't it?  I found a stitch pattern I liked and pretty much winged it, guessing the number of stitches, estimating from my swatch that 162 would be enough to wrap around twice.

I have to admit to a hefty bit of guess work but it worked!  I used every inch of yarn and even had to unravel my swatch to have enough to cast off. And it fits!

When I finished we were in the middle of the Indian Summer called September (hence I am modelling it with a sleeveless tee shirt!) so I have only just begun to wear it but it is just fab, soft, fluffy, warm and BIG!

The pattern, or perhaps I should say very brief instructions, can be found on my Ravelry page HERE

If you do make one, and they are super quick to make, do please leave a comment on my project page I would love to see how other people interpret the design



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)