Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Stuff on my cat

Wondered idly last night how much of the Christmas knitting I could get piled on top of Amelia before she protested. Most of it, as it turns out...

One and a half socks to go before Christmas...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


... was fun! I spent longer than I'd anticipated stewarding our stand, but we still had time for a little recreational shopping, and a proper look at the exhibits. Being a Bad (and shy) Blogger though, I didn't take many photos at the show itself (this one is an exception - we hijacked this lady and took photos of her sweater despite not asking her name... She told us it was a Colinette pattern - if anyone's reading this and recognises it could you please give me details as one of my colleagues would really like one? )

The Ally Pally photos give you an idea what the stand looked like although we rearranged a little for Harrogate. The editor of Workbox Magazine came by and took photos, and we also talked to the ladies from Classic Stitches about articles two members of the group are doing for them, so that was cool. Disappointingly, I only spent half an hour or so at the Relax and Knit stand, near the end of the second day, but met Fred again, and saw Yvonne teaching people to fingerknit.

While stewarding, I crocheted a curly whirlie scarf, modelled here by Sandra; this one is made in Lion Brand Homespun from the Tajcrafts stand; quite heavy (about 250-300g of yarn) but very warm... Treated myself to a very cool 8mm sparkly Addi hook to make it with...

Also did some stash acquisition: first some sock yarn - the centre ball is Opal Rainforest in Chameleon (socks for the friend-I-went-with's partner), and the surrounding ones are Socka; I love this stuff...

Then some laceweight from Kaalund, and some Debbie Bliss Maya (which was £5 because unlabelled)...

And some random bargains from Linton Tweeds (who only sell these at shows) - £1/ball. These are destined for items to be sold at Textiles in Focus at Cottenham in February. Better get knitting for that!

The journey home was somewhat... interesting. At Doncaster, someone broke door locks and sounded the emergency alarm on the train in front of us, so we spent 45 mins in detailed scrutiny of the platform while the train manager fell repeatedly on his sword apologising at approximately 4-minute intervals... Then at Retford, we spent more time staring at vending machines and photobooths while the track ahead of us was examined; eventually we took a 'pilotsman' on board to steer us over a broken rail... Halfway through this, we decided to take up my companion's partner's offer to pick us up at Grantham, and got home only an hour and a half later than scheduled in some degree of warmth...

Back to reality now until Christmas though; happy Christmas knitting, all...

Monday, November 21, 2005


Long catchup post... due to trips to London (one to see Show of Hands who were as usual superb; and one to the Science Museum with the Fibrefusion group and to meet Jan), general autumnal lethargy, teaching myself Mountmellick to teach to classes, joining new team at work and shifting desks and seeing the odd friend or two around here, it's been a busy couple of weeks. Yesterday, I braved the Special Circle of Hell reserved for small shopping centres at the Grafton Centre, Cambridge; but also saw the Harry Potter film and went for a pizza. Today, I've done an Augean Stables job on the house between whitework and online Christmas shopping sessions, and have declared it's now officially Evening and a Weekend Well Spent. So, some pics.

First, some baskets, made on the course at Cambridge Botanic Gardens on November 2 and 3.

The plain one with the handle is made of yellow Flag Iris leaves, and the greener one with the sparkly bits is made of Iris siberica with a strand of Louisa Harding's Sari Silk plaited in. They're both made with a strand of 5-plait which is then wound round and stitched with jute, and a viciously sharp sailmaker's needle (knitting gauge included for scale).

It was really good fun and although I loved dealing with the leaves, I can see lots of uses for weird materials in this technique. I'm wondering about plastic carrier bags to start with (if I can bribe someone to cut them into strips for me. I really don't know enough biddable and desperate children)... The tutor on the course was Tricia Lilley (highly recommended), and the technique is a traditional East of England one for making useful baskets.

And a couple from the Science Museum trip. Shamingly, this is the first time I've been in there although I've been to both the V&A and the Natural History Museum many times. The thing which caught my (and the whole group's) attention was the 'Challenge of Materials' section, which pointed out how high-tech some of the materials we take for granted are; and how simple some of the things we think high-tech. Some of the recycled materials were also fascinating. A couple of little things though; this sent a bit of a shiver down my spine

[The caption says: The Negative of Glory. Metal shavings produced during the process of making medals. With thanks to the Royal Mint. Cornelia Parker: Artist in Residence]

And I loved the display of casein items, having fallen in love with the Swallow knitting needles this year. Haven't been to a UK museum where they're so laid-back about taking photos too; including with flash (yes, permission was asked...)

And some knitting. The MW jumper went back from being a Finished Object to this

yesterday evening. Took forever to unpick - hadn't realised my finishing technique was that... erm... permanent... think the likelihood of wearing this at Harrogate is somewhat remote; although it was quick to knit up last time.

Meanwhile I've finished the final pair of Christmas socks, and also knitted this, for my mother-in-law (Cloud scarf/wrap pattern; used twice the no. of stitches recommended for the scarf, in Cherry Tree Hill merino laceweight, colour Peacock, from Woolly Workshop; pattern from Get Knitted; still needs blocking);

and this; which I may well just keep (Socka Color sock yarn, shade 2419 bought from Web of Wool at Ally Pally). I need more of this yarn. And I've knitted up everything I bought from them at Ally Pally, so I reckon I can justify some, too! One ball makes a scarf about 130cm long on 4mm needles. This one also needs blocking.

Am already having 'are we nearly there yet?' feelings about Harrogate. Three days at work, a Fibrefusion session, a Mountmellick class and a 3.5 hour train journey to go...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The week that was

It was a heck of a week. I had a really good couple of days on Weds/Thurs, doing a day school; but I haven't taken pics of the results yet so I'll leave that for the moment. However, the course was at the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge, so here are some pics of some nerines

some autumn colour

and an oak.

I forget what kind of oak it was, sadly. Something quite exotic anyway. I'd left my handy notebook in the classroom and was just wandering round with my camera.

Otherwise work was hell; haven't been sleeping (winter time; bah!) and have also developed a raging fixation on The West Wing (haven't lived in a house with a TV since 1992 so have caught up on this one late via DVD and been hit badly) which has taken up most of my sitting-at-the-PC time, but have discovered that Christmas-present socks are mindless enough to knit while watching, as long as you're not attempting to turn a heel while any of your favourite characters are having a particularly traumatic time...

Finished the Mexican Wave sweater. It looks OK (well, not particularly in these photos but that would involve me learning how to use the camera correctly), and I like the neck stuff particularly and that suits me;

but generally it doesn't look that brilliant on. The semifitted sleeves were a Bad Idea - once I put it on there's a weird batwing thing going on with lots of extra fabric where I really don't need it. I think I'm going to have to disassemble it, pull back the sleeves as far as the shaping and the body down to the beginning of the armholes and make it properly drop-sleeved or properly shaped in... I suspect this scuppers my plan to buy yarn at Ally Pally and have it knitted into a sweater before Harrogate...

One of the stressy things about this week was that on Saturday I was exhibiting and demonstrating at the Lacemakers Fair at St Ives (the Cambridgeshire one); here's a pic of my stuff on the stand on the upper balcony

and one down over the suppliers' room (nope, no yarn to speak of...

I was terribly good. Bought a couple of water soluble markers from the brilliant Wendy at Mace and Nairn but that was all. If you do traditional embroidery, she's your woman; and her customer service is wonderful.

Think I made some contacts for some more teaching, and met an interesting environmental artist and am hoping we can collaborate on something. I was sitting at a table doing machine embroidery all day; usually gets people interested. There seem to be a lot more men wandering around lacemakers' events than at knitting or embroidery fairs and they seemed to be particularly drawn to it.

If they invite me back, maybe next year I'll finish packing for the fair more than 5 hours before it starts...