Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm back! With a vengeance...

It’s been a long ol’ while since I’ve been able to write a blog post, and for this, dear readers, I can only apologise sincerely.

Yarn yarn yarn yarn!
 I have, however, been really rather busy, both at GBY and with my mum [yes we finally finished the shop] (and of course that dank old rag I call my social life). It has been lovely to be able to meet and speak with some of my adoring fans, and by that I mean, it has been nice to meet some of you who admit to reading the blog, and those who dared say they enjoyed it. My ego has been swelling nicely ever since, so my eternal gratitude goes out to you.

My knitting has been coming along in leaps and bounds, and I have attended a lace workshop, WoolFest and learnt to do cables all in my long absence from blogging. 

Foolishly, I have neglected to take pictures of some of my finished projects, but know that I have been immensely happy with the result. I have found the book 'The Knitted Odd-Bod Bunch' by Donna Wilson to be a hearty companion in times of stifled creativity.

My current project is a pair of cabled legwarmers for my newest niece. I’m using Debbie Bliss’ Baby Cashmerino, which seems to have the current monopoly on all things soft. It is a joy to knit with, and the slight gloss that comes in the wool makes the cables look about fifty times more impressive than they probably are. I am by no means the final word on the subject, but as this is my first cabled project, I feel like they’re looking pretty good and that makes me happy inside.
I am the Queen of lace!!
Let’s backtrack a moment, and we’ll dwell on my brilliance in conquering the lace workshop! Okay, okay, it wasn’t totally my brilliance, it was a combination of good cake, good teaching and a whole heap of patience that had me knitting lace by the end of one day. All round I was incredibly impressed with the result. Recently, we’ve been having a lot of mind-mapping sessions, thinking about new workshops and courses we can run, and all I am at liberty to say at this present time is how darn exciting they are all going to be! There seem to be many new things in the pipeline for everyone, and this fills with me with joy.
I am 100% NOT lying when I tell you I definitely did this. DEFINITELY.
Anyway, I must dash as there are dogs to be walked and tans to top up in this rare but oh-so-gratifying British sunshine, but know that I have far from deserted you, dear reader.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Yes, I'm a terrible blogger. This has been mentioned before.

Yes, there is a post on the way.

Yes, I am still knitting.

But oh gosh is it hard to find a spare hour or so to write a blog post. I've snatched a few minutes here to just mention the Great British Giveaway that we're having on our social media outlets this week, just so that my dear readers don't get left out!

Keep your eyes on the Twitter and the Facebook pages for more.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jubilant jubilee!

This is just a quick post to let you know that a) there is a new post on the way, and b) there are some fantastic jubilee offers over at Great British Yarns this week, with a new offer ever day.

Check out the homepage or like us on facebook for all the deets.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Word vomit.

My dear, faithful readers.

For far too long you have been left in the lurch, with no word from me to let you know that I am, in fact, safe and well. I trust that your distress has been minimal, and urge you to cease any rescue missions you may have forged in my lengthy absence. You’ve been warned of the gargantuan nature of this post, so grab a cuppa, a biscuit or two, kick your feet up and come with me on a whistle-stop tour of my past few weeks.

With such time away from my blog, and computers in general, it is tough to know where to start. A quick retrogression tells me that I left you just after the Steeking workshop. So, that was way back in April, and a lot has happened since then!

As mentioned, the mothership and I went to Wonderwool, a large and glorious celebration of all things knitty up in mid Wales. I guess I should begin by catching you up on how that went. In a word, Wonderwool was cold. Not just your average, “I’m going to wear a scarf today” kind of cold, the kind of cold that makes every single bone in your body ache. The kind of cold that makes you believe you will never be warm again. No matter how many scathing coffees I poured down my throat, nothing could quell the growing frost of my innards. Okay, so I’m getting a wee bit poetic, but believe me, imagine the coldest you’ve ever been, and imagine that lasting for 3 days. Our B&B room was not in the house, but actually out in the garden shed. You can imagine how difficult it is to try and stay warm in a garden in mid-Wales. 
Months and months of work all on the back of a lorry!

 Frostbite aside, it was such a great experience – thanks so much to everyone who came and supported us. It truly meant a lot to meet so many lovely people, who not only were interested in what we were doing, but who were also keen to support us. If you’re interested, my mum’s yarn is now selling at Great British Yarns, and I’ve persuaded her onto Twitter. There’s also a Ravelry group if you’re that way inclined. I loved being at the show, and being there with a product I truly believed in. I felt accepted by the knitting community and that was important for me. It was inspiring and exciting, both in the people that were there and the things on show. My personal highlights? Meeting the mighty Sasha Kagan – a knitting mogul whose books have been on my mum’s bookshelves since I was tiny. The Shetland SheepSociety and the British Coloured Sheep Breeder's Association, whose kind words and informative advice made many things a lot easier. It was great to see JohnArbon Textiles in person, too, as well as being next-door neighbours with The Natural Fibre Company, whose new stuff in the shop makes me fall over with desire.
Our stall - 9 1/2 hours of building later...
Right, so after Wonderwool I came back to work for a week, warmed up, and then did my driving test. A pretty stressful end to a very stressful few weeks, but thanks to the grace of God, I passed! Not first time, I hasten to add, this was my third attempt, but I only got a few minors so I’m incredibly pleased. My pink license came in the post today, and I’m not ashamed to say that I danced around my kitchen with the smallest of my dogs. She was not amused. I feel like a fully-fledged grown up.

Following the driving test, I then hotfooted it over to the New Forest to have a well-deserved holiday with my girls from university. Since graduation, we’ve been blown our separate ways, so booking time in with each other away from housemates and parents is really important to us all. We stayed in a heavenly little cottage and had a wonderful time, with many wild foals and donkeys populating the sides of the roads. A novelty that never wears off! Of course, we managed to visit every wool shop we came across but I managed to remained disciplined and held my purse strings tight. Now that I’m running a car, disposable income has somewhat vanished!

What they were supposed to look like!
Part of the reason for the holiday was my BFF’s birthday, and I had decided long ago to nab the free Anna Hrachovec pattern from here and make a selection of tiny rabbits for her.  I think she liked them, although I wasn’t too happy with the finished quality. By the end of it I was rushing, and though they all had their own character and charm, I’m a perfectionist and would have liked to spend a bit more time on them. Nevertheless, I churned out 6 in the few moments of spare time I had leading up to the holiday.

I really enjoyed making the rabbits and decided to get the Teeny Tiny Mochimochi book – they are really fun to make and this book is full of great ideas. They make much easier gifts than socks!

So I got back from holiday, and was greeted by this fellow:
Looking deceivingly still and well-behaved.

A new puppy! We got him while I was away so he was already pretty settled by the time I got there, but he’s adorable. He’s a deerhound, so will grow up to be the size of a small horse. At the moment he is fluffy and pick-upable and so we’re trying to make the most of it before he out grows us all. We called him Dobby. I like to think that it’s because of Harry Potter, where in reality I know that it’s because my mum is a spinning nut.

Then I was back to work, where we’re super busy organising our Lace Workshop and all the new stock for the summer and the coming Winter. It’s been one of those months where my feet haven’t really touched the ground! 

I must wrap this up now – I’ve been rambling for almost 1000 words and if you’re still with me you deserve a medal/cup of tea/long sit down in a darkened room.

Not much knitting updates in today’s entry, but I will knuckle down and continue to make cool stuff and learn new skills to fill you in on soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm a terrible blogger.

My dear, dear readers.

Fear not, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth - I have been a busy little bee and away doing all manner of exciting things.

Tomorrow there will be a gargantuan post for you to feast on.

For the mean time, here's my current Etsy crush, Yokoo.
Delicious chunky hats and scarves.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This Saturday, I was lucky enough to be able to go along to the second knitting workshop at GBY (read about the first one here) on Steeking.

I know what you're thinking - if you follow this blog at all you'll know that I am a total beginner and am in no way ready to be steeking. I shared your thoughts, and hoped to go along and merge into the background lest anyone ask me about cabling, thumb cast-ons or other such things I know nothing of. I planned to hide behind my role as photographer, and, as I didn't have time to prepare any sample swatches, I figured that the likelihood of me having to actually get involved was a slim one. Oh, how wrong I was.

The fateful moment!
Before I go any further, I'll explain to any fellow beginners what steeking actually is. It was explained to me several times before I actually got the hang of it, and even then, doing it was something else all together. It is as mad as it sounds so I'll say it slow. Steeking is where you cut. Your. Knitting. As you can imagine, this strikes fear and horror into the hearts and minds of knitters world-over. Well... apart from Norway, where they apparently tend to be snip happy when it comes to jumpers and such like. So, brave Norwegians aside,  the concept of cutting your knitting seems to be entirely superflous and a rather scary procedure. But, there is a reason to do it, and many fairisle patterns use steeking as a way of making armholes and seams where the pattern can continue as normal. I know, I know, I'm not a very good explainer - head here or here for more comprehensive guides. Basically, it's a very handy little technique which can turn the meekest of knitters into a scissor wielding maniac. Don't be put off any horrendous photos - they look like open chest cavities, but believe me, it needn't be that scary!

The workshop was run by the mighty Ann Kingstone, whose glorious website you can visit here. I was pretty anxious about going to what I knew was going to be a full workshop, having inadequently prepared and lacking the knowledge to even feign the confidence I needed!

Copious amounts of tea were needed.
To be honest, having had to be told what steeking actually was, I wasn't at all sure what to expect. I was even afraid to wear any knitwear on the day in case I was forced to cut it apart. Thankfully, once we had all arrived and said our hellos (and had a good look around the shop, it has to be said!) Ann was very clear that she wanted the day to be fun. She gave us an introduction, but it wasn't long before we had to get down to cutting our samples. (Lucky for me, Sharon had knit some spares!)

Ann, and all the lovely ladies who shared the steeking experience with me, were all super encouraging. It was also nice to be there on my own terms - as much as I love doing these things with my mum, it was really interesting to be there by myself. It meant I couldn't rely on the person next to me to help me out when I made a mistake, and forced me to speak up when there was something going on I didn't understand. Thankfully, everyone was so lovely, I found myself being a little too honest about my inability to pick up stitches, but they all encouraged me to keep at it and I had the hang of it pretty quickly, helping me to keep repeating it until I had it dialled.

Weirdly, even though I was by far the least experienced person in the class, I didn't feel left behind at all. I may not have been the quickest, but I achieved the same amount as everyone else and managed to even pick up a few bonus skills! We learnt three different ways of reinforcing knitting, and I'm so completely confident that I feel fully able to attempt a pattern with steeking in it. I don't know when one will come my way, but I know the skills I learnt will help me when one does!
Machine enforced knitting - weird, huh?

The experience overall was so edifying. Just when I reach the end of my patience with a project, or get bored with knitting swatches, an experience like this will come along and completely restore my spirits. I cannot recommend the workshop experience enough! The combination of great teaching and great company really added to my enthusiasm and I'm still buzzing! I'm trying to refrain cutting up everyone's projects - apparently "just because I can" isn't a valid reason for doing it!

Fairisle steek sample.
Anyway, I know I've rambled long enough... I'm off to Wonderwool this weekend and if anyone else is going please do pop by and say hello - I'm there with my mum [Jillybean Yarns] and would love to meet you!

Monday, April 16, 2012


So, remember ages ago I talked about some mittens I had been wrestling with?

Well, the other day I found the confidence to pick them up again and actually get them finished. I had developed a strange kind of phobia of them – I had such traumatic memories of throwing them across the room, screaming at the pattern and generally getting too emotionally involved in the whole thing.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working in the KnitPick’sCity Tweed – it’s a lovely soft wool and knits up with a subtle shine which makes the finished product really forgiving and malleable. As I was making mittens/wrist warmers, the softness is much appreciated. Okay, so I may be a few seasons off for appreciating warmness, but with global warming and all that you never can tell what the weather is going to do!!

The project, on the whole, was fairly mental. I think my problem was taking on too much too quickly. I struggle to find things that I want to knit, and it took us ages to find a pattern. Eventually we came across Simple Knitting by Erika Knight, which is a really lovely, well-published guide to knitting.

 It suited me perfectly, it is full of lovely, timeless patterns which I know I will knit in the future. It seemed like a sound investment, as it also acts as a guide to all things knitting, with a beautifully illustrated guide to stitches, seaming and other such larks. So the mittens pattern was rated at 2 out of 4, and what with my previous hat and scarf attempts, I felt like this was a good step up.

Turns out, the pattern was a lot harder than anticipated, and I had to get my mum’s help when shaping the thumb gusset. However, I did learn so much over the course of the project. I learnt the importance of patience! I realised that I don’t have to be the quickest knitter in the world, and I learnt that it’s more important to keep going at it rather than to get mad and try and forget all about it. 

Anyway, here they are:

I chose not to block my mittens as the author suggests, mainly because my hands are small and I knew that the length would irritate me. I really like the rolled back look at the top, and it means that they’re a bit more useful when it comes to actually doing stuff whilst wearing them. I can’t wait for autumn to bust these out! 
Modelled by my unnaturally tanned mother.
  Even though there were times when I thought that these mittens would spell the end of my hobby, I am so happy with the finished product and I feel like it was a real achievement to get through it. The only thing I would say is that the rating on this pattern should be moved from 2/4 to 3/4. Shaping the thumb gusset is really hard and there were a few mistakes in the pattern that only a knitter with a few years of experience could determine.
   If you’re a beginner or want to learn more about knitting in general I’d really recommend this book, and the project! I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to publishing, and I find many of the glossier knitting books brash and garish. Thankfully this one has really been thought about, and the book as a whole is lovely, It’s got a really homely feel to it, and the photography by Yuki Sugiura is really complimentary. I love it that the publishers haven’t cut corners, and I’m glad to start off my collection of knitting books with this gem.

All in all, overjoyed at how they've turned out. I'm going to be the only girl at the beach this summer with mittens on!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter etc.

The past week or so has been absolutely mental. What with Easter and all, and the impromptu moving home of my sister, I've barely found time to knit, let alone blog.
I will rectify this as soon as possible, please bear with me and keep your eyes peeled!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Colour by numbers.

I’m afraid my knitting has reached a kind of plateau recently, I’m still slogging away at the socks mentioned previously, and I’m due to start knitting some tension swatches for my mum who needs them for a show.
So instead I shall blog not about knitting, but about one of my favourite things about knitting: colour. Beware; I have a tendency to get a wee bit sentimental.
A cheerful selection of HandKnit Cotton.

Colour theory has been top of my list of things I want to learn about for ages. I find the whole business fascinating, and am often inspired by colour more than anything else. I love the fact that there are what I call ‘untranslatable colours’ those which cannot exist outside of their specificity. Things like the precise orange of a sunset, the colour of winter light. I find these things endlessly exciting and inspiring, and with a mother who is an indie dyer, I find myself being more and more drawn into the world of colour. 

Since working in a knitting shop, I’ve been amazed at the wide selection of colours on offer. I guess it’s something I never really encountered before becoming a knitter. I paint, but often the colours have to be the same shades – cobalt, burnt umber, Payne’s grey etc. 

The most bizarre thing is the names. I love thinking about whose job it is to come up with accurate names for the newest shades, and it’s surprising how much companies can repeat themselves! It’s really satisfying when a name of a shade really encapsulates the colour it is in reality – the one that sticks in my head is a Knit Picks yarn, ‘Masala’.  It’s such a great name for such a rich, warm, inviting colour. 

I also love Debbie Bliss’ Apple Green – it’s an ideal spring hue and perfectly named in my opinion. I also admire and appreciate the really bright colours, Knit Picks are really great at this too, their Macaw, Canary and Cyan shades always cheer me up if it's a grey day, and I always jump for joy any time anyone buys any. Recently, we’ve gotten in some Amy Butler Rowan yarns, and the colours are all so perfectly complimentary that I’m over protective of the display!
Amy Butler Shades for Rowan
I loved doing the colour workshop because it allowed some specific time to be put aside to think about colours, and when I think about knitting, I’m spend far more time considering colours than I do debating over particular patterns.

It’s been said that your favourite colour says a lot about you, and it’s been really interesting looking up what colours may mean. Obviously colours have a long history of symbolism that predates all this psychology malarchy, but nevertheless, it’s been really interesting looking at ‘What my favourite colour says about me’.
For the record, my favourite's green:

 The color of harmony and balance, Green symbolizes hope, renewal and peace, and is usually liked by the gentle and sincere. Greens are generally frank, community-minded people, fairly sociable but preferring peace at any price. Green people can be too self-effacing, modest and patient, so they may get exploited by others. They are usually refined, civilized and reputable.

Though I refuse to make a comment on the accuracy of this assessment, it’s still a pretty interesting exercise.
So, what’s your favourite colour, and what does it say about you?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Be a man:

I found this here and just had to share.

I love vintage tattoo style illustrations, and this one really made me smile, so much so I'm sharing it on all my blogging platforms!

However, I have never met a serious male knitter - something I hope to rectify at this year's WonderWool event, which I am far too excited about.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rabbiting on...

Okay, so the reason I’ve been so absent the past week or so is because of this:

This little bundle of delights is my gorgeous baby niece, who was born this week.

I’ve been honoured in that she’s been given my name as her middle one [long, touching story], and I maintain that the only reason she came out when she did was that I finally managed to finish knitting the slippers I had been working on for 3 weeks previous to her arrival! I knew that I wanted to get them done before she arrived in the world, but as more and more got in the way of my daily life, I thought it was an impossible task. Thankfully for me, not so much for my sister, baby was not keen on coming on time, so I got an extra 8 days to make all the finishing touches.

The pattern was from this Debbie Bliss book, which is going quite cheap these days and is chocka with loads of really nice, really makeable things for kids. Keen followers of the Facebook feed will know that a lovely customer inspired these! I used some trusty sale yarn from GBY, and hey presto. The pattern was really easy, and it’s amazing how it goes from this:

To these:

The best thing is that when they’re done, they look really impressive. I feel like I’m slightly cheating because they really were easy to make. Best of all, I was able to follow the pattern all by myself, with no help from any of the various knitting gurus I have surrounded myself with in the past. It was such a sense of achievement to finish and to hand them over. Though it did take me a long time to actually sit down and knit, they didn't take that long to actually make, which is always good.

I doubled up my gift by purchasing some gorgeous knitted wares from Potting Shed Crafts, and, sticking to the theme I chose a gorgeous bunny ears hat.

Babies really are the best! I can't wait to make lots of new things for my namesake.