Yarn Crawling in The City

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OK, yesterday was the 2nd annual London Yarn Crawl and I was out there with the rest of the fibre freaks, hitting the Handweavers Studio, Fringe, I-Knit and Mrs Moon. I also walked for miles (literally), so I may have spent pots of money on lovely stuff (which really needed me, so it doesn’t count) but I did manage to shed a few calories in the process.

Of course, the term “crawl” is not to be taken literally – at least, not until the end of the post-event party at a pub in King Cross (The Parcel Yard, Kings Cross Station). To be honest, most of the crawling involved public transport, as well as yarn and needles:

Bus knitting

Bus knitting

It also led to a lot of interest from slightly bemused bystanders (or, in one case, a bysitter who encountered the group on the tube as we headed to I-Knit from Fringe).

Tube knitting - as opposed to tubular - although there are a lot of socks going on in this photo

Tube knitting – as opposed to tubular – although there are a lot of socks going on in this photo

An entire day with so many beautiful things to look at, squeeze, love, buy, just admire because it was so wonderful – see photo from Fringe, where there was an exhibition of felt art.

I know angels and trumpets feature heavily in most of the publically available material on the subject but I reckon Heaven undoubtedly has a fabulous yarn shop and a bunch of yarn crawlers somewhere on site / cloud.

Flet, silk and embroidery creations in Fringe

Felt, silk and embroidery creations in Fringe

And now I have to return to my purchases as they all need some more love – especially the Sweet Georgia yarn from Mrs Moon – (which sock pattern do I chose??) and the Kaffe Fassett / Rowan Kid Sik Haze, from Fringe. So many fabulous things to play with / knit and so little time.

Craft days

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Today has been a Craft Day with a capital C, i.e. not just another day when I knit but a day when I knit with others.

My current project is a hat for Refuge, which is a charity helping the victims of domestic abuse. And I have spent the day knitting it at a craft day organised to help CALM, a charity which reaches out to young men suffering from depression. AND we were selling odds and ends for a local hospice charity…so a fairly useful and philanthropic sort of day all round.

I would be feeling pretty smug, but the hat I have chosen to knit is quite complicated, so I really had to concentrate. Added to which Dexter, aka The Amazing Andrew (his stage / Kennel Club name), our new puppy, chose to be a bit mournful around 4am and shared his general misery with all around. It is quite incredible how so much noise can come out of such small things – I do recall babies being quite vocal too. Anyway, the upshot is that I really can’t be bothered to be smug – I’m just too tired.

Actually, the difficulties I have encountered with the hat should not have come as a complete surprise given that I have knitted this pattern before. You would think I would remember that the instructions were frequently as clear as mud but old age is creeping up on me and I just remembered how much I liked the end result.

I also need to make it absolutely clear that the phrase “current project” merely refers to the Work In Progress which is receiving the most attention at this present time. There are other current projects and a few which are hibernating. I wouldn’t want anyone to think the said hat enjoys a degree of exclusivity which it really doesn’t deserve. It’s just that I need to get it finished because it has to move to its new home in two weeks time, whereas the rather beautiful jacket I am also knitting in John Arbon merino I bought at Fibre East doesn’t have a deadline. Neither does the yellow cardigan in Colinette yarn which I have finished but which needs to be sewn together and button bands. The aubergine cotton jacket with peplum which equally required button bands is also deadlineless – which is just as well as it has been waiting for the said buttonbands for about a year. These are all pending projects, although some do pend more than others.

I do hate button bands!

Snow Angel for my Snow Angel

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It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently, although not in the KfP household as No 1 daughter has been preparing to get married. The big day was Saturday – in a field in Essex – and she looked beautiful.

But as Mother-of-the-Bride it (apparently) fell to me to organise:
1) the cake – thank you so much Christine at La Lavande for the most beautiful wedding cake in the world. Everyone thought the roses were real – not sugar
2) the food – thank you to Em the Gem, daughter 2, bridesmaid and trusty kitchen side-kick
3) garters – how can you forget the “blue” (to go with the old, new and borrowed) until 48 hours before the big day???
4) confetti – ditto
5) the other useful stuff which everyone else forgets (selotape, scissors, kitchen wipes and towel, etc). Forgot to take my own towel but I did have two rolls of the paper stuff
6) the veil – she wore my Juliet cap and veil, a mere 33 years old this year
7) the shawl

OK, the shawl. She wanted something to throw around her shoulders in case it got cold, (it’s a field in Essex, kid, They don’t come with central heating.) No 1 was born on 21 December 1988. She was my winter baby and the pattern for the shawl is called Snow Angel.

It is knitted in lace weight wool – I went for Rowan alpaca / merino in pure white – and has loads of little beads added into the knitting. Fortunately the pattern only requires them to be flipped onto the stitch with a crochet hook as there were about 600 beads used in total and I would have become seriously bored trying to string them onto the wool prior to knitting.

The shawl comes in four sizes – I made the second smallest (medium) which produced a perfect crescent stole. Not too big but large enough for the beauty of the lace to show through. Main problems:
1) remembering to change needles at periodic intervals
2) finding enough space to block it out after I finished it – how do my children manage to acquire so much rubbish and why do they have to spread it around my house?

Anyway, photos to follow when they become available and one final thought:

WHAT EVER POSSESSED ME TO AGREE TO SPENDING THE NIGHT IN A TENT?

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Steeks – part deux

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And now the final part of the steeky story – my beautiful cardigan. I am sooo smug I would be totally unbearable right now if there was anyone even remotely interested in knitting to talk to…however the OG really only does films (preferably mould old was films) and motor bikes.

BLue & white cardigan 2

 

My family and other crafting animals

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I have been reading Piecework, which is an American quarterly magazine. It isn’t the ususal sort of craft magaizine in that, although there are projects to complete, these are inspired by the historical objects which form the subjects of the accompanying articles. It struck me that most of the writers refer to their family – mothers, grandmothers, even the odd grandfather – the people who taught them how to knit, sew and generally inspired them, which then led me to think about my own family and how they have influenced me.

It is also the 100th anniversay of WW1 and I have somehow inherited a number of “war bits”, mainly from my paternal grandmother. Having decided to excavate one of the bedroom cupboards last weekend, I rediscovered a tablecloth she made from the centre of a WW2 parachute. I have no idea whether it is German or British. I just know it is a parachute and she crocheted a lace edging for it. She also said she and the other women in the neighbourhood used the rest of the parachute silk to make underwear.

I can confirm that I do not possess any of my grandma’s knickers.

My grandma used to crochet – mainly lace. Apparently she used to knit too but was told it was bad for her heart (she had angina in the days before really effective drugs, angioplasties, etc.). No, I don’t understand why knitting was deemed to be so dangerous, despite the title of this blog. Grandma never struck me as the sort of person to stab herself with a knitting needle but there you go. She did crochet instead and I have fond memories of wearing lace gloves she had made for me to church on Sundays. (Odd memory that! Who wears gloves to church as a matter of routine now?)

Grandma as a young woman

Grandma as a young woman

My mum was always knitting. She did some dressmaking too; most of our clothes were home made when I was an infant and I remember being particularly proud of a cotton summer dress with blue roses on it which I wore to the church fete when I was about 3 or 4 (I think I was a flower girl to the fete queen). Mum could crochet and tat too; there were a few embroidered objects floating around our home which she had completed years before, but yarn was the main thing and, like me, she preferred stuff to be complicated. She found acres of stocking stitch a total bore.

My mother on her wedding day

My mother on her wedding day

And then there was Mrs Watson. She was not related to me in any way whatsoever but I always regarded her as a sort of surrogate grandmother and I loved her dearly. My sister and I used to go to her house every Saturday morning where, from 10 until 12, we would crochet, sew, knit, talk, drink milky cofee and eat the world’s best home-made scones.

Mrs Watson, or Rhoda to her friends, is the person who taught me most about handicrafts. She was quite old fashioned in her outlook – very proper and a true blue Tory. She always wore boned corsets, which meant that giving her a hug was a strange experience as no one else I knew even had such a thing. My grandmother had certainly abandoned them. I can’t remember hugging Grandma and feeling a sort of chain mail barrier between us.

Mrs Watson died in 1988. She had no grandchildren of her own and her daughter had died from multiple schlerosis a few years earlier, so I don’t suppose there are now many people left who remember her. But I do and this post is my way of remembering her and all who blessed me with the gift of craft.

Steeks – I finally did it!

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OK. I admit it. I was not convinced.

I know Elizabeth Zimmerman knew her stuff. I am prepared to say that hundreds of Scottish women can’t be wrong. I just didn’t think I could cope with steeks. They were my own personal Rubicon.

But yesterday I finally made it and cut the steek.

I have been knitting this really pretty blue and white short-sleeved cardigan. I chose the pattern deliberately because it called for steeks and I actually got to the critical stage months ago (I started knitting it around April 2013, just after my heart bypass) – and then I wimped out.

I am not quite sure what I thought I was going to do with a cardigan than didn’t actually have a front opening – just a checkerboard stripe running up the centre where the gap ought to be. There was nothing rational about my fears. I bought my first knit-in-the-round cardigan kit over 20 years ago direct from Alice Starmore and I still have it in kit form because I couldn’t conquer the steek thing. (Actually, given the Starmore name, it’s probably worth a fortune – but it’s mine, all mine and I can do steeks now!)

Anyway yesterday I stabilised the steek with lines of double crochet and I cut. Then I blocked and now I keep going to look at my beautiful cardigan because I really, really, REALLY want to do the button band – and I promise I have NEVER written that before! But my chef-d’oeuvre is still wet, which is a real bummer.

All of which just goes to prove that you have to face your fears head on. I have spent over twenty years being scared of steeks, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now I think every home should have one.

And I’d like to think I have learned my lesson but I suspect I will find something else to avoid.

But, in the meantime, I am celebrating both steeks and blue and white cardigans.

Woo Hoo!

Birthday presents, Fibre East and other stuff

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I had a birthday recently. Not a big one (big enough, however) so guess what my kids / husband gave me. Yes, my very own blog, complete with the first entry, which was written by No 1 daughter. No 1 daughter does not knit (and she can’t spell purl). She is also a psychologist – which explains odd comments about mental health issues. She does, however, capture my feelings about wool.

Wool is the perfect antidote to idiot people. It is beautiful and soft and useful and helps me unwind. There are hanks of wool with my name on them, just waiting to be discovered. They call for me and I will find them because they are meant to be with me. What’s not to love?

Which brings me to Fibre East, a local yarn festival at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, where I have just spent a most enjoyable day tracking down some of my lost yarn. And a yarn bowl. And some stitch markers. Plus the odd pattern. Hey, why should I stop at yarn? There is a lot of yarny stuff out there which needs my love and a place in my home.

I went to Fibre East all by myself last year – first time visitor. This time I took a couple of friends and shared the yarny love. I’m not quite sure how much we all spent but we have jointly rehoused a lot of fibre – not to mention some spindles. (My friends have decided – as of today – to take up spinning, Me, I just want to knit / crochet. Someone else can do the spinning thing – although I could be tempted to try dying my own wool. Just not yet – too much knitting to do.)

Anyway, I do love yarn festivals! Roll on the next foray – although I do have to do a bit of destashing first.