Sunday, September 27, 2009

I do still knit occasionally...

Actually, I've knitted quite a lot this month, but some of it was Christmas Knitting which will remain secret, and I've very nearly finished a sweater which I started earlier in the month - it's been a while since I turned out a garment in a couple of weeks but it is in chunky. Pics of that when it's finished.

I've liked the Wool Peddler Shawl from Folk Shawls for a while, but didn't fancy knitting it all in one colour of DK. But I had an amalgamation of approximately DK-ish-weight yarns, three of them spun by me.

1 - handspun merino, own kettle-dyed sliver from Wingham Woolwork - approx. aran weight.

2 - handspun merino bought as fibre from limegreenjelly - no name on skein but I think of it as Agincourt.

3 - handspun silk/merino from rainbow blend fibre bought at Wingham Woolwork in March 2005.

4 - silk/merino blend DK from Cherry Tree Hill (in Dusk colourway); not sure it's commercially available in the UK yet as it was a gift from Gill who's their UK distributor.

5 - Brown Sheep Handpaint Originals wool/mohair blend (in Stormy Skies colourway) - gift from Jan a couple of years ago.

6 - Artist's Palette Buttersoft DK - bought at yarn-tasting at Stash last year (no colourway or dye-lots - all her lots are one-offs).

I got quite close to a disaster at the end of this project- that tail is all that's left of one skein of the Buttersoft DK!

I've explained the method used for colour choice/balance in an earlier post so won't rehash that here... Once a colour was gone, it was gone; all three of the handspuns ran out, which was what I was hoping for, as did one skein of the Buttersoft (I do have another one, but it's earmarked for another small project)... I've taught a couple of freeform classes this year where we've used this sort of method with a twist for creating random scrumbles, so thought I'd carry it over into a project using a pattern.

I had the usual audience (and used my normal terribly tidy way of working while making this...)

Spread out on the floor it was a somewhat unusual shape, probably because of the preponderance of purple in the middle section (that yarn was the first I'd spun for a long time and was somewhat thicker and slubbier than the others). I thought the colour balance came out pretty well for something that was genuinely random...

The lace pattern towards the outside is written for stocking-stitch lace, but I like the slightly untidy effect you get with joining garter stitch on the wrong side, and after a few rows it was all looking a lot too tidy, so I ripped it back and worked the lace as garter-stitch as well.

Blocked it comes out at 78" by 36" so a nice big shawl to cuddle up in and unusually just about the same dimensions as suggested on the pattern...

And another quite bad blocking shot, but you can see the contrast between the plain garter-stitch and the lace... It was very serendipitous that I used the Cherry Tree Hill silk/wool blend just before the lace because it was slightly finer and drapier than the other yarns, so you get a nice scalloped effect... I think this shawl's going to get a lot of use if I leave it draped over a chair this winter...

Garden photos this afternoon, with any luck - I've been taking them, but not processing or blogging them! I need to do some actual work this afternoon first, but it'd be good to catch up with myself once in a while.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Boss

Hard to believe, but happy 60th to Bruce Springsteen - still touring, still rocking, and fresh from a live performance of the whole Born to Run album in Chicago.

I can't believe it's been 27 years that I've been listening to the music, and if anything it keeps on getting better. It's only when you see a picture like this, of proud daddy Bruce introducing his son to Barack Obama in October last year, that you realise time is passing...

Happy birthday, Boss, and many, many more to come.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Knit Weekender

I spent Friday and Saturday at the I Knit Weekender, and I had a marvellous time. After a stress-free journey down, so unlike last year, first up at the Royal Horticultural Halls was a presentation from Debbie New, author of Unexpected knitting. She was interesting and warm and funny, had some great slides of her projects and techniques, and was unfazed by questions being fired at her from the audience. Here she is knitting a complicated knot before the presentation started.

And here are some of the samples she brought. This little sweater was something I hadn't really noticed in the book, but was the most exquisite thing seen close up.
And one thing I'd not really taken account of was the amount of warm colour in her projects - you tend to think of techniques rather than colour, but the colour combinations were wonderful.

She'd also brought one of the "some assembly required" puzzle sweaters - you can see it as a long strip trailing off the first photo, and here it is after two keen volunteers from the audience had assembled it on the floor...

It was lovely to meet someone who's been a bit of a hero for a long time...

There were fashion shows - I only caught the very beginning of the Biggan show because I went to sit on the KCG stand for a bit of the afternoon.

Gill had some of my yarn on the stand - they do say everyone has her price...

And here's the full Woolly Workshop stand complete with Gill - fabulous colours, as ever. Mini Mochi seemed to be the best-seller but the Manos was hopping off the stand as well...

Opposite was Rockpool Candy with their Fibre Activism.

An overview of the beautiful halls. When I took this I didn't realise I had Jeni from Fyberspates in the shot - she's the tall blonde lady in the black.

The I Knit stand (and lots of knitters including Skein and Jill)

View from the top of the steps just before the fashion show.

Crocheted blankets on the Natural Dye Studio's stall - beautiful faded antique colours...

Herdy had all sorts of good ideas including the Herdybank and some lovely mugs.

And John Arbon/Coldharbour Mill had some fountains of beautiful fibres. Some of the 70% alpaca/30% merino at the back begged to come home with me so I let it.

After presentations, shopping and volunteering it was Wine O'Clock.

Jackier knitted faster than the camera could cope with

while roseanglaise, still justifiably chuffed by her recent honour from the Oil Pastel Society, found a novel use for a Harmony DPN.

After some dinner with Gill, I went back to Wigram House where I was staying for the princely sum of £28.50 plus booking fee - it's clean, quiet after midnight, incredibly central but in a residential street and very efficiently run. I'd certainly use it again - highly recommended.

On the Saturday morning I did a class with Alice Starmore. I'd signed up partly out of curiosity - she does have something of a reputation both for her expertise and for her business model - but mostly because if you're going to see your first steek cut, there probably isn't anyone better to do it! It was a wonderful class - the first half hour was some history (with an emphasis on the financial imperative having developed the highly efficient two-handed style of knitting, the left hand working Continental and the right working in English style), and a demonstration of all the basic techniques, with several samples, and the aforementioned steek-cutting (up the front of a v-neck cardigan). In the second half we embarked on a sample (on two DPNs, breaking the yarns off at the end of each row so we were always knitting from the front), while Alice came round each small group of people and commented/corrected as necessary. I was keen enough to finish the sample in the bar at St Pancras before catching my train home; and am going to do some more soon. And I got my new book signed!

As last year, the best part of the day was meeting up with people I knew and hadn't seen for ages. I didn't get pictures of littlelixie (apart from a sliver of her back on the final Debbie New photo!), who was on fine form in a lovely sequinned top until her back gave out again, or of daisydaisydaisy who was there on Sunday and shared a half-hour in the café with me. Or of several other people...

Sparkleduck was around, and some of her beautiful yarn was also on display at Woolly Workshop.

Here's Harvey, taking a well-deserved break towards the end of Friday

and from way too early on Sunday morning, the wonderful Woolly Wormhead - it was soooo good to see her again! And look, she's carrying two of her gorgeous Hats. She was teaching, but not till the afternoon...

From Cambridge, frizzyknits and her friend whose name I have forgotten again (I always want to steal their beautiful hair...)

And a very rare sight, Gerard, the force behind the whole enterprise, actually sitting down. I think this probably only happened for about 3 minutes. The whole organising crew was dashing around all over the place. Comments from last year had obviously been taken on board by the venue - the food lasted all day and the cashpoint had been filled up! As I left at about 4pm, AlpacaAddict came racing round the back of the building heading for the front - still working away... Thanks, guys; it was wonderful.

It was an altogether charmed weekend. I was so cheerful even trailing my three rather large bags through the village that I tried my "make-an-emo-smile" trick and it worked (if you grin unexpectedly at them they smile back , they can't help it, until they remember that everything's-just-wrong-and-life-isn't-fair and reassume their scowl. Bless their miserable little hearts...). And then I got home just as an SUV from Emmaus pulled up outside - one of the occupants got out and headed towards the shop. So I chanced my arm as everything was going so well, and talked to the driver, and he came in and got the folding bed I've been trying to get rid of for a while now and bunged it into the boot and drove away with it. Result.

I'll take pics of the shopping later on, for the next post...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Well, you'd hope so...

No comment. None. Gah. Oh, except click to embiggen.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

3:15 project - six month update

Kathleen C. in her comment on Sunday's post suggested I show a "before and after" photo. This is definitely in the nature of a "before and during" photo; there's still a lot to do; but a recent conversation with a friend about different ways of working reminded me that generally, I'm really quite bad at living in the moment (yesterday afternoon's lovely couple of hours knitting and cat-wrangling-for-my-pattern was an exception), and also quite bad at looking back on a job and thinking about it as a whole; so I thought it might be a nice idea.

I also realised that Sunday's general photo (the one I started out calling the Abomination of Desolation shot) had been taken from a different angle to previous ones - I'd been standing on the patio, rather then next to it, so you didn't get the whole of the patio table - which is a much better idea from a photographic point of view, but wasn't what I started off doing, because the patio was way too slimy to enjoy standing on.

So I went out when I got home tonight and took a picture from as near the same angle I could, given that the first few weeks were taken with the little camera which has a slightly different picture ratio...

Here's where it was on March 1...

and this is the view on September 1. Some of the difference is obviously that it's summer; but a lot of it is hard graft.

And it's anyone's guess how dreadful it might have looked next March if I'd just let it go again this year... I hope the one-year shot will be even more dramatic.

And speaking of dramatic, this is what it looked like at the other side of the house 20 minutes after taking the photo above...

It's showering a little bit... All a bit film noir... Completely unadulterated by Photoshop etc., but I have a gold voile curtain instead of traditional lace/nets, which helps...

On a completely different tack, I heard an item on the news this evening about the service at St Paul's commemorating WW2 evacuees - all those people just a little bit older than my parents (who grew up in relatively rural areas) wearing their labels and gas-masks... Seeing someone like Michael Aspel with his luggage-label pinned to the lapel of his smart suit was almost unbearably moving. I wonder if anyone's ever done any mass research on those 3.5 million children to see how much the experience of evacuation changed their lives.