Saturday, 23 March 2013

Wool House


I was a lucky knitter this weekend and got to visit Wool House before it closes tomorrow with a fellow knit-mum Aarti. We started out by meeting the multicoloured sheep outside. This one looked a little glum in the snow; Aarti sympathised while I tried to cheer him up.

Once inside I was excited to meet Shauna Richardson's Crochetdermy brown bear, which I've just finished an article about for Knitting Magazine. The crochet is applied directly onto the mould of the bear, which highlights the anatomy as it swirls around the structure of the animal. I was a sight to behold and I was really glad to have seen one of her creations up close.

The exhibition is split into lots of different rooms each with it's own commissioned theme with a specific artist. The idea is to show how wool can be applied not just to the obvious, but to everything from duvets to wallpaper, insulation to sculpture. It was a real immersion in wool and made me feel very close to the sheep indeed.

Donna Wilson's nursery room was super cute with her knitted creatures snuggled into every crevice including a little bandit fox which was trapped 'in jail' beneath the cot. From the twitter pictures that have been popping up since the exhibition opened I think this has been the most popular room of the show. However my personal favourite was the 'Natural Room' by Josephine Ryan. The room included some stunning driftwood like furniture, two armchairs which looked like aran knit jumpers, a taxidermy lamb, lots of yarn, knitting needles and a series of stunning sheep paintings on the wall. While in the room we met a friendly French woman who told us that the reason there was a pile of onions on the table was because they remove bacteria from your house. You learn something new/ questionable every day.

Facts we did learn about the magical properties of wool include:

  • It has hypoallergenic properties. 
  • Having wool in your duvet, mattress or bed underlay is scientifically proven to give you a deeper and cosier night's sleep. 
  • One sheep gives enough wool fabric to cover a large sofa and that sheep will produce that amount every year. Now that's sustainability.
  • Wool is flame resistant, it does not ignite easily and often self extinguishes.
  • There are more breeds of sheep in the UK than anywhere else in the world. We have over 60 different types of sheep. Where are we putting them all?

Appart from the facts we also brushed up on our skills in the craft room. Rowan were running a drop in workshop teaching people to knit and crochet and there were spinners on hand to show you how to make your own yarn using drop spindles and spinning wheels. I actually did a spinning workshop many years ago when the Handweavers Studio was still in Walthamstow. But I put my spindle away not long after that and haven't managed to pick it up since. The lovely spinners we met have certainly rekindled my interest in the craft and it was good to get to grips with the basics again.

The shawl above hung over the chair is made entirely from hand spun yarn made on a spindle and it would be lovely to think that you not only knitted something by hand but also spun the yarn for it. Perhaps one day. 

It was a great day out and I'm only sad that it's such a short exhibition as I know a lot more people who would have love to have visited but didn't get the chance. I certainly would have gone back again.

I'll leave you with a simple quote from the exhibition which really sums up what it was all about: 
Wool is a fibre for the life we lead, the people we love, the planet we inhabit.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Pay It Forward #2: Socks for Katie

When I was trying to decide what to make for my friend Katie's pay it forward, I knew I wanted to make her something that she might be impressed by. She's fairly new to knitting and so I thought she deserved something that showed how awesome knitting is as well as encourage her to keep at it. Socks instantly sprang to mind as despite not being as hard as you imagine people never cease to be impressed by hand knitted socks.

This was a super simple basic sock pattern using a German yarn that I got with a subscription to a magazine (I think). I couldn't find the yarn on Ravelry, which actually makes me slightly uneasy. Mystery yarn! It says Sport- & Strumpfgarn on the label, so if you know what it is I'd be interested to know.

The colour way is clearly bonkers but I always think knitted socks should be slightly nuts, otherwise what's the point? I like the idea of you being dressed completely normally but when you take your shoes off people jump back in shock of the hand knitted madness on your feet. It's akin to wearing a natty tie except you're not an old eccentric man - or maybe you are?

The socks were presented at our knitting group yesterday night and Katie seemed to like them very much, which was a relief. I was really glad that she tried them on and then kept them on for the rest of the evening. There is a real joy in wearing knitted socks which I'm sure she felt as her heel and instep were cradled as never before.

Before making these I hadn't realised that I haven't knitted socks since this emotional pair in 2009. That's three years. OMG. It's given me the urge to tackle a more difficult sock pattern for myself but there is still the matter of one more pay it forward to think of, make and send. Best get the thinking cap on.

Monday, 18 March 2013


Not long after I posted about the shooting Starr jumper did my Mum perk up and tell me that there is a photo in existence of Flo wearing it. This photo was taken in July last year and the jumper was most likely up to her belly button already, but at least there is proof that she wore it before it was sent on it's journey. Thanks Mum!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Shooting Starr

Once upon a time, a Mother knit her Daughter a jumper called Starr. But that Daughter grew so quickly that the Mother didn't even have a picture of her Daughter wearing the jumper before it became a crop top. The Mother was sad that the jumper would no longer be worn and put it away in a keepsake box destined for no purpose at all.

But one day the Mother had an idea. She realised that she knew other Mothers at her knitting group, who had Daughters growing equally as fast and who deserved (and indeed would appreciate) hand knit jumpers. And so the Shooting Starr was born. A jumper destined not for being taken out of a box and reminisced over occasionally, but a jumper for being passed from Mother to Mother, Child to Child and most importantly a jumper to be worn.

The Shooting Star has now began its journey with Karyna and her Daughter, Robyn. I will be tracking its progress as far as is possible. Fly, my pretty...

Friday, 15 March 2013

Pay It Forward #1: A Scarf For Zoe

At the beginning of this year I saw a friend post on Facebook a 'Pay it Forward'. This said that they will hand make something for the first 6 people that replied to the post, with the only condition being that those 6 people pay it forward and post the same thing on their wall. Essentially the point is that at some time within in the year you will get a nice gift from someone for no reason at all and you will make a nice gift for 6 other people also for no reason at all other than to have that nice fuzzy feeling inside. I excitedly replied to my friend's post and in return posted the same message on my wall.

By admission I am a selfish knitter, preferring to make things for myself rather than anyone else, so this pay it forward thing was a big ask for me. 6 handmade things is a lot of things. I was secretly planning on palming a few of them off with homemade cake instead of knitted goods. But as days went by I only had 3 takers. So I decided it had be be knitted items all round.

And so here is my first pay it forward to the lovely Zoe! I met Zoe back in 2011 when she posted on my local NCT online forum asking if anyone wanted to start a knitting group. Now could you guess what happened next? Obviously I jumped at the chance and we went on to have a lovely local knitting group of Mums, all of whom I consider to be great friends now as well as awesome knitters.

Zoe moved out of the area over a year ago and has gone on to start up her own business teaching crafts to the masses in Suffolk called Crafty Baba. If you're in the area and are looking to pick up a new skill she has classes for all your needs including knitting, crochet, curtain making, dressmaking even nappy making and woodwork!

I made Zoe a Scroll Lace Scarf from Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits 2 using some left over Rowan Tapestry yarn from a cardigan I made years ago. I just love the gold, browns and pinks in the yarn and think that it really compliments Zoe's colouring. As you may have also heard before I love love love Ysolda's designs and so this was a joy to knit.

I hope you enjoy it Zoe!

So, who's next on my pay it forward list? Let's see...