Saturday, 30 April 2016

Yarn Shop Day 2016 - Wild and Woolly

Today was Yarn Shop Day, which is a chance to celebrate and support your local bricks and mortar yarn shops. I really believe that this is a truly worthy cause. Who wants to buy all of their yarn online without a chance to squish, sniff and gaze at it lovingly before deciding to take it home?
So, I made my way to Wild and Woolly in Lower Clapton to join in with their Purly Queens Pop up, which was basically a whole host of fabulous designers and dyers show casing their wares.  In attendance was Anna Maltz, Jane Lithgow and East London Knits Renee Callahan who all had samples of their designs to try on, which my Mum took full advantage of, as well as patterns to buy, kits, project pages and more. TravelKnitter and The Wool Kitchen were also both there with their gorgeous yarns for sale.

The shop was packed when we arrived, which isn't hard as it is a small space but it was lovely to see that so many people had turned out to browse, buy and simply sit and knit. As usual the knitting community welcomed everyone in and there was a lovely atmosphere in the shop, in fact people even began spilling out onto the pavement it was so busy.

Mum trying on the Seceles sample
After a while there was a quieter spell and Mum and I were able to sit down with a cuppa and a home made biscuit to review our possible purchases. In the end I came away with a skein of The Wool Kitchen 4ply in the Ground Control colourway.  This was from the David Bowie collection that Hannah had dyed up before Bowie had sadly passed away. Perhaps she had the inside knowledge on that one ;-) I also bought the pattern for Jane Lithgow's Broadlands Mitts which I just loved when I tried them on. Mum bought East London Knit's Klee Collection, the Seceles pattern and the yarn to knit it. Score all round.

It was a really fun afternoon filled with chatter and lots of squishing, sniffing and gazing at beautiful yarn and patterns.  I hope you had the chance to join in and visit your local yarn shop and if not, make sure you keep making those purchases in person rather than always online. Lets keep our yarn shops in business!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Where have I been?

I've been right here! 

I've still been doing my article in Knitting Magazine but found it increasingly harder to keep up with the blog while doing a full time office job, wrangling a now six-year old child and of course enjoying knitting. Excuses, excuses, right? 

I guess that the knitting blogger landscape also became incredible competitive and overwhelming. At times it has felt like I couldn't keep up, so why bother? But I realised that I shouldn't really need to compete with anyone. I love to write and I love to knit. Writing is such a wonderful gift that I shouldn't limit it. I also feel that I should exercise it to keep my writing in good shape. So here I am, where I've always been, but ready to blog again. Let's go.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Enter Cat

No, you can't assume from the title of this blog post that I have re-homed another cat, although that is on my wish list of things to do this year. It is actually my interpretation of the pattern name for this cute cute cute cardi I have made for Flo: Entrechat. It is french and I thought it translated to Enter Cat but it is in fact a ballet term where the legs cross each other mid-air in a flutter - apparently.

The yarn is the skein of Handwork Cotton I got a Plaristow of Rye on holiday and was lovely to work with. Soft and not too shiny as cotton can sometimes be. I wanted to find a one skein pattern and ideally something for Flo to wear. When I asked her what she wanted me to make she asked for a toy dog, which I instantly rejected in favour of something she won't just hide in the bottom of the toy chest.

The pattern was lots of fun and knit all in one piece, there's lots to keep you interested but nothing to confuse you which was just what I wanted. I was initially worried that one skein would not be enough but I finished with a tiny bit of yarn left over, so it was just the right amount.  My favourite bit of it is the little flounce the back where you increase after the textured section. It creates an explosion level of cuteness in me.

The biggest dilemma came with the button choice. I have so many buttons at home but always nothing to go with what I've made and I end up buying more. But I do love buttons so much I don't think I'll ever stop buying them just because. I went with a simple wooden heart button from Liberty, which helps to balance the pinkness of it all.

Sadly a continuing fact of life is that it's hard to get a 4 year old to stand still for a photo. *sigh...*

She still looks lovely in it though.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Plaristo of Rye

During our trip to Camber a few weeks ago we popped into nearby town Rye to enjoy Ye Olde feel of it all. Every local we spoke to engaged us in a lengthy friendly chat about the history of the place whether we had time to stop or not. And so we quickly learned that because of its close proximity to the Channel it was a prime spot for the French to invade, resulting in Rye being burned to the ground on several occasions. Educational and exciting! But it wasn't just the lovely locals, cobbled streets, castle and cannons I was looking for. As usual I was hoping to find some yarn and as usual I found it.

Plaristo of Rye isn't really a simple yarn shop, it's more of a fibre gallery with fluff in many forms. Weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet and some other non fibre-related arts are all catered for. The colour in the shop was enveloping. Everything was a bit special, a bit jazzy, a bit out there. I loved it. Of course I was mainly interested in the yarn and while Flo inspected the resident felted sheep with bestie Shan and the lovely shop owner, I had a look around.

Mr Sheep and his weaving

Fluff and stuff

A cool table top made of yarn, buttons and lights with glass on top.
Would love to steal this idea.
The lovely thing about the shop was that apart from some of the well known brands there was quite a lot of unlabelled skeins which I spent most of my time there squashing, sniffing and rubbing on my cheek - these are my three main methods of testing the quality of yarn don't-cha-know. The owners took time to tell me that these skeins are all delivered to the shop undyed and they dye them locally, which I thought was delightful and therefore had to buy some.

As I was choosing, this happened:

Flo picked up this skein of cotton and said she wanted me to buy it for her. Now, let's be clear. I'm not usually in the habit of letting her have things that she picks up off of any shelf and requests. It could lead to a very dark place. But this request totally melted me. Seeing her little face, while holding up this quite florescent yarn, asking me to buy it was a proud knitting-mummy moment! 

Flo's florescent request was quickly bought, along with the above multicoloured 4ply Baby Lamb Alpaca. It's going to knit up like a clown threw up on it, but I'm sure that will make it fun to make something with.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

I Can't Doooooo It...

Flo asked me to teach her how to knit the other day. This was the outcome.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Picking a project for the other Birthday Girl

This is Shan and she's my special 'birthday twin' as we were born on the same day in the beds next to each other 30 years ago! I wanted to knit her something to mark the occasion, as for me that's the ultimate expression of love; making something specifically for someone and hoping they'll like it, use it/ wear it and cherish it forever. So I set about thinking what I wanted to make for her:
  • She's a classy lady so I wanted something unfussy, but with a simple interest. 
  • She wears a lot of black, perhaps because she's a doctor and has seen enough white for a lifetime? So it needed to complement that without being a really 'out-there' colour that she'd never wear. 
  • She has recently bought a house, which is probably the most exciting house I have ever been in. It's like a little cavern that keeps throwing up random rooms, extra kitchens, tiny stairways to studies and narrow hallways leading who knows where. The only thing is that it's practically falling down and therefore freezing in the winter. So whatever I made for her I knew it needed to be warm. 

The pattern I finally settled on was The Age of Brass and Steam, which is a rather steam-punk name for a pretty simple, classic pattern. The barley colour of the yarn really reminds me of Shan as she loves neutral tones in her home decorating. The yarn is 100% wool so it will be super warm in the winter - it's actually a bit of a shame that I gave it to her during summer! Although she can't wear it just yet for fear of over heating, she seems to really like it, so if she's happy, I'm happy.

We did lots of celebrating this year but wanted to do something extra special to mark the big birthday so went away for a long weekend, husbands and Flo in tow to Camber Sands in East Sussex. We stayed in an amazing little holiday home called The Salty Dog which I HIGHLY recommend. It was lovely to spend some quality time together and get away from it all for a few days, but by far the best part was Camber Sands beach and dunes. Seriously, you can't get better than this.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Birthday Goodies

This year I reached the grand old age of 30 and subsequently got lots of amazing gifts. Here are just some of my favourites:

Roberts retro look DAB radio. The kitchen and garden have been alive with dancing and singing since it's arrival.

Lady Dinah's cat cafe 9 lives card. This entitles me to 9 free entries to London's first cat cafe. They have their own cats, you need to bring your own! I'm dying to go but sadly they're all booked up until October, so I'm hanging on the hope that I'll get a cancellation before then.

Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply. Merino + Silk = Yum. I am not sure what to knit with this yet but when I do it will be squash-tastic.

TickTackToe yarn print cushion. This is pride of place on the sofa.

Bespoke necklace from my Birthday twin Shan. We share the same birthday and were born in the beds next to each other a few hours apart 30 years ago. The necklace has an 'L' and 'S' on it and feels very special. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Peace, Love, Knit Tee Shirt. Wearing it loud and proud.

The Mr. got me this AMAZING bespoke yarn bowl made by my favourite ceramics designer Annette Bugansky and Maya from Knit with Attitude. It's only one of a couple in existence so is a pretty special gift. The bowl is made up of two halves and is made to look like a big ball of yarn. You open it up and pop your yarn inside, thread the yarn through the hole in the top half and knit away without your yarn rolling off. I must confess with Flo running around I'm unlikely to chance putting this delicate ceramic on the floor at present, but there will be a time that I use it perhaps for a one skein project when she's at University? For now it is admired on a shelf, away from little sticky hands.

A friend, Katie, made me this lovely tea cosy, which has been in use a few times already. I need to drink my tea scolding hot, so this helps keep my brew at optimum burn temperature.

And finally my knit Guru, Wendy, knit me this cute back pack with cats inside and out. She uses her famous Peterson technique to do the intarsia. This technique ensures that the edges of the image are smooth and contoured instead of blocky. Cool huh? Tutorials are yet to come on her site but I'll let you know when they're up.

All in all it was a great birthday - what a lucky girl I am!