Wovember’s woolly needlewrap…..

folded-wrap

I’m so pleased to finally be able to share this project…for me it’s very much been where a love of knititng and sewing and embroidery and of course wool has all come together….

You might remember, back in November I wrote a couple a couple of posts on here about my love for wool and for knitting, how during the past year I’d been on a bit of a knitting adventure and had been knitting with various different British Breed yarns, not really to do anything with them, more of a get to know you, how do you do sort of thing….all this really can be laid at the door of Knit British podcaster Louise Scollay…her podcast has really inspired me to look for local yarn and to find out a bit more about the yarn I use….this background and story to my knitting has really fed my story/need to know addiction….whether it’s patchwork (so and so’s auntie Flossie had this leftover from a pinnie, this was a pair of pyjamies, this scrap was from one of my dad’s shirts etc) or knitting (what’s the breed, the story of the shepherd/ess, who bought me my needles and what do I use as stitch markers….)

Waffling aside, November is also Wovember…a month long celebration of wool and how wonderful it is….most of the focus tends to be on yarn and fibre, knitting,spinning, felting and the sheep…Wovember 2015 was such a revelation for me, it really opened my eyes, and by the end of the month I was very much all about the wool.  So I was very excited thinking about Wovember 2016 and wondered how I could give the organisers a thank you.

embroidering-hand-woven-donegal-tweed

Earlier in the Autumn I’d been in touch and asked if they would like a prize for one of their competitons, and I’d be happy to make a bespoke made knitting needle-wrap made from and lined with all wool fabrics…..

Various Wovember competions take place including one on Instagram, all set up by Louise and Felicity (Felix Ford)…you needed to add #wovember2016 to your pictures…you can see the amazing photos just here ….

I’m really lucky becasue we have an amazing fabric shop in Norwich called Anglian Fashion Fabrics on Magdalen Street and they often have very limited runs on the most beautiful wool cloth….and I happened to pop in when they had some hand woven Donegal tweed…..

tweed-fabric-once-it-has-been-embroidered

I had to wait until the winner was announced and then got in touch with the lovely Sherrie @woollykindknits (this was her winning picture…) and asked her what sort of wrap she would like…Sherrie lives in the US so this was all done with text messages rather than being able to chat with her on the phone…in the end we decided to go for a wrap for her dpns…she has possibly one of the largest collections I’ve heard of though I think Evaowl could possibly come in very close….

Once I’d drafted a pattern for the wrap that would not only hold all the needles Sherrie has at the present, but which would also allow space in case she buys some more….I cut the fabric and embroidered particular areas of it using a selection of vintage wool threads, mostly crewel-work yarns for the fifties.

inside-embroidery

I tried to highlight the tiny flecks of colour that is worked throughout the Donegal tweed cloth….the sprigs of embroidery were worked in small areas on every side, as I felt that would be like little surprises whenever the wrap is opened……

lining-reveal

As well as choosing Donegal tweed for the wrap I also bought a very lightweight wool cloth for the lining….this is a slatey grey/blue colour which complimented the tweed.

The wrap was sewn so that there’s room for two rows of needles, the left hand front pocket is designed to fit both 6 and 7 inch needles….and then the pocket behind fits the 8 inch needles.

finished-wrap

The wrap is kept closed with a piece of vintage leather thonging, and folds over quite snug so it will fit nicely into a knitting basket.

I was starting to fret a little as it was a bit slow in arriving, and thought it might have got lost in the post so was all about to make a second one but I was worrying over nothing as I had a lovely message from Sherrie this morning saying it had arrived safely and was already full of needles….

Huge thank yous to the inspiring team at Wovember, for encouraging me to learn all about the woolly wonderfulness that is just on my doorstep, and big hugs and thank you to lovely Sherrie who was so patient while I sewed so slowly….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very special bespoke and woolly wrap……

 

 

inside-wrap-fro-claire

Over the Summer I was able to combine my new found love of knitting alongside my older love of sewing….previously when I’d attempted to do any knitting it had been on 12 inch or even 14 inch straight knitting needles, but since trying out the wonders that are interchangable circular needles my heart has been rather taken with them however it did seem that tips and cables were soon scattered about in almost everyroom…. over the Summer I started making needle wraps where I could store all my interchangeable needles together ..I’m rather a fabric horder so I had plenty of materials with which to tinker …..I made a couple and sold some to very kind friends and found I really enjoyed working to their specifications….I also made some wraps for double pointed knitting needles too as  I had a rather large collection of those as well (many thank yous to lovely Isla at Brit Yarn who sent me no end of beautiful wooden ones she wasn’t using)…..

Something I’d not initially thought about was the different tip length for needles, mostly I like a short needle tip but other friends have said they like longer ones or more often…half and half….. but none of the cases or wraps I’d seen were made where you could store both types of tips so a bit more tinkering was in order…..what I had wanted to sew though was a wrap that you could store all your needle tips, cables and a couple of other pieces like a needle guage and some short stubby needles for when you’re knitting softly flowing cables……

embroidered-wool-coat-wrap

Most of the fabric I have in my stash is more often than not special in someway to me…perhaps it’s the same floral print I had in my bedroom curtains when I was little, a cushion or chair cover from an elderly friend or relative or it’s a fabric I’ve found in the bottom of a box at a car boot or flea market, one that makes my heart all skippy ….and while these all make me happy I’m aware other people have equally special fabrics themselves……while I’m happy to hoard fabric or notions, I really love being able to make it into something that I will use, so I see that cloth and get all those memories every day with every touch…..

Last year my lovely friend Anne gave me an old wool coat that had been her mums, sadly it had a really bad tear so would have been a bit difficult to repair however she thought the fabric might be useful for me…..so I used it to make her a series of needle wraps and a big knitting bag to keep them all in…….the fabric was nice but not very interesting so I embroidered small wild flowers over it in vintage crewel yarn……when she opened her gift she straight away recgonized the fabric, and said “it’s mum’s old coat”, pressed it to her face and sighed “ooh, it still smells of her”….to which we then had to blow our noses because we got a bit teary.

So while not really a comission that was such a meaningful make because that fabric meant such a lot to one of my friends……she’s pretty sure it would have been her mum taught her to knit so seeing and using that wrap everyday holds a whole lot of memories…..

wraps-for-eva

A more recent commission has been for my friend eva, one wrap very sensibly is for her (fixed circulars this time so it was made with deeper pockets) and then 2 long wraps were made for a couple of her friends which were designed for interchangables…eva didn’t want the space made for a needle gauge but instead wanted them filled with spaces for lots of tips and while similar in construction ended up looking quite different because of the fabric used…..

Last year when I started knitting I began listening to a couple of podcasts (KnitSonik and Knit British) and started reading all the wonderfully woolly and sheepy articles on Wovember…..both podcasts and woolly articles really lit such a fire in my heart, on days when my knitting was mis-behaving I was able to put it aside for a little while I’d listen or read…and then return back to my yarn and pointy sticks a little bit more relaxed……

Anyway, I’m very grateful to Felicity (Felix) Ford  and Louise Scollay who both do so much hard work preparing for all that is Wovember and I wanted to show my  appreciation in some way so I emailed Louise and offered a bespoke wool wrap as a prize for one of their competitions…..so I’m very excited to say I will be making a special, custom made, all wool fabric, needle wrap for the winner of the Wovember Instagram competion…..the winner will be announced today over on the Wovember site….(if you look for #wovember or #wovember2016 you’ll see some beautiful knits, wonderful sheep, and some amazing woolly goodness going on…a real celebration of such an incredible fibre) ….

I’ve bought some beautiful hand woven donegal tweed especially for this and have some very fine weight wool cloth for the lining…..over the holidays I’ll be working on this special bespoke wrap to suit the winners needle specifications and will be posting progress here and on Instagram (yes, I’ve finallly bought a phone that has a camera)…..thank you so much Team wovember for your wonderful enthusiasm for wool and for all the interesting essays and features on the Wovember site….if you’d like to help support Wovember there is a little donate button at the bottom of the Wovember site page.

 

 

Christmas stockings and a girl called Joyce……

weeny stocking for weeny sized bears

When me and my sisters were growing up we had the excellent good fortune to know a lovely lady called Mrs Ellis….she’d turn up on her bike with the front basket so laden up with all sorts of vegetables and flowers from her garden, apples from where she’d go apple picking, mushrooms from the meadows…a glut of asparagus in the Spring….she was always cheerful and had a smile, you really couldn’t feel miserable or downhearted in her company.  As I got I older I moved away from the Suffolk village I grew up in and came to live in Norfolk but I’d often go see her and her husband, as soon as I walked down their path the back door would open and there they would stand, waving and beaming to see me, their kitchen was the cosiest place in the world….it was just like having an extra set of grandparents and really even I don’t have the words to express how wholly fond of them I was…

Sadly a few years ago,that hazy mist of dementia took hold of her and her mind become all muddled so she had to go into a home and before long she became Joyce, the girl she’d once been and very quickly quite clear forgot her adult life….she’d always been so delighted and impressed at seeing things I’d been sewing or crocheting and over the years I hand made many presents for her and her husband, it was always so lovely to go visit them and see my makes, some very old and sun faded in their kitchen or other rooms of their home….the pleasure of seeing handmade never left her though and even on days when she was very confused a lavender heart I made her was straight away stroked against her face, stitches inspected and lavender smelt…..

hand embroidered Christmas stockings

So the other year while she was in the care home I embroidered a stocking for one of my oldest friends, even though she no longer could remember my name she still had a smile for me when I’d go visit and would reach up and touch my cheek….

I filled the stocking with all the things I thought she might have had when she was little, some brightly foil wrapped sweets, a few chocolate coins, a couple of satsumas,tiny puzzle games….. she was entranced, she slowly traced the letters I’d embroidered with her fingertips and said “that’s my name” …and even though it broke my heart to see this incredible and so inspiring, capable woman all befuddled she made me smile at being happy and together we laughed trying to do the puzzle games……

joyce 004

If you are a long time reader of my blog then you know my dear friend passed away earlier this year and with thoughts of her I’d like to offer someone the chance of a personalised stocking…if you know someone who has been affected with dementia or any ill health, someone who needs a little cheering up then please just leave a comment below and I’ll do a draw on Friday evening around 8 pm.  Due to me leaving this rather a bit late I don’t think the stocking will reach you in time if you live overseas so this is for UK residents only.

ETA This giveaway is now finished……

Quiet moments while the morning wakes……

crocheting shadows

Quiet moments outside while the morning is just starting to wake is one of my favourite times of the day.  Generally I’m up and out of bed by six, even at a weekend*, I head downstairs and put the kettle on to make tea then I sit for a while on the back door step or get out a small table and chair that we keep in the garage, and make myself comfy and hoof up a rather weighty never ending project onto my lap…..I’m slowly getting round to sewing in the many hundreds of woolly tails on the back of my grannies crochet blanket, it’s pretty heavy and by mid morning is too warm to have on my knees…..I especially love how it looks in the morning sunlight, the colours in the tapestry wool seem alive and really glow.

the blanket inspector

And even though it’s early I still have a little assistant who’ll  wander over to help me….

No-one else is up, though often I can hear my neighbours starting to stir, one chap potters around his garden and the sound of him filling water-cans from a water butt is a regular early morning sound, sometimes I hear a coax of lip squeeks and a rattle of cat food as kitties are called in for breakfast….mostly it’s windows opening, and a waking up cough……it’s too early for any traffic, so I can often hear a distant rumble from one of the trains leaving the railway station, one of my friends has to leave Norwich early to work in Cambridge and I often think of her being on one of the trains I can hear….the railway line runs across the common and marshes just down the road, it’s not a noise to disturb, just a low soft rolling sound.

Then there are the birds, blackbirds seem to have the most to say though the magpies make more noise, raspy chuck chuck chuck’s sound down from the sycamore tree behind our garden and then one, two or more magpies swoop out of the branches and fly off over the roof tops….sometimes there’s as many as 8 or 9 and how anyone can sleep through the racket they make is quite beyond me.

Often there’s a loud series of shuffles from our laurel tree, sounding exactly like someone struggling with a particularly stubborn umbrella, this is followed by a long lulling almost cuckoo coo coo coo and I know the wood pigeons are awake too.

tumbling and bumbling on meadowsweet

There’s always the soft droning buzz of bees to be heard at any time of the day, we’re really lucky and have so many bees visit our garden, white bottomed, orange bottomed, small, skinny and some so fat I fair  wonder how they can even fly, all tumble around and roll deep in the flowers, until they emerge all dusty and pollen drenched.

Bernard amongst the strawberries

The garden is full of soft shadows, raspberries scent the air and there is almost a haze around the rosemary bush, it catches the first sun of the morning and perfumes the air on our patio for the rest of the day.  we’ve let the garden get a bit wild this year and a bindweed has appeared in the middle of the raspberries and rosemary, and yes, I know I need to remove it but it has the prettiest trumpetty milky white blossoms which the hover flies seem to love, each bloom resonates with their low buzz.  (Bernard has made yet another den under the raspberries, it’s a bit cooler here and he’s very well hidden from my grabby “who wants a cuddle” hands).

comma butterfly As the morning becomes day and the sun comes out it’s the buddleja that will scent the garden, there’s nearly always butterflies on it especially after lunch when they seem to bask in the sunshine, wings slowly opening wide to show off dusty velvet delights.  I never fail to be amazed at their long spiraled tongues, drinking, sipping up nectar before flitting off to the next flowering burst of purple.  Mostly we get comma butterflies, red admirals, tortoiseshells and peacocks, from time to time I see orange tips and smudges of blue flitting amongst the undergrowth and shadow…..

paperweight crochet colour planning 008

My work room is East facing so those soft morning shadows that dance over the garden also flood my work space, they flit and flicker across different craft projects, and if I start the day in there then I’m more like to sit in a semi daze, not really working just taking stock of chores to be done, scribbling or daubing with paint ideas and sketches for futute makes.

morning shadows

I pinned up a piece of patchwork I was working on to soften the light in my work room a bit, crochet garlands which are strewn across the window cast their shadows, they appear in different shapes and sizes like something from a lantern show and gently rock back and fro in any most welcome breeze…….my poor old neglected patchwork…too much knitting and not enough sewing means another year is going to go past without this being quilted, but on a morning when the sun seems a bit too scorchy, and I need some shade then I’m more than a little thankful that I’m a slow quilter and have half forgotten about this work in progress………

*I’m also annoyingly chipper and sing little good mornings to Bernard much to his general disgust that I’m dawdling at getting him fed!)

 

Combining colours and when opposites attract….

selection of coloured grannies

Some time ago now, I wrote a post about how I go about choosing colours when I’m making quilts, crochets and embroideries…I always find it easier to go back to basics, and to think about the primary and secondary colours before giving any thought to how and why some combinations work and how others are a bit hmmppphh rather than “wow”.

colour wheel

Often before I start a project I make a colour wheel from all the  pieces of fabric using bits from the nearest scrap bag to hand…..with a couple of extra colours to the red,orange,yellow, green,blue,violet/purple…and that’s teal (bluey green) and pink…you wouldn’t normally get either one on a colour wheel as they’re tints  (pink being made by adding white to red, teal being created by adding white to bluey green) but pink is a tint/colour I find that I use a lot and personally think it combines well with most other colours.  I also like teal a lot as well.

green bow tie print star block

(Pink and yellow is a pairing I find myself using time and time again, but I also like pink with green for my patchworking, embroidery and even my wardrobe)…

mosaic 2

Thinking about it I like pink with just about every colour, about the only pink pairing I don’t like is with purple…..though orange can be a bit hmmm but it depends on the colour pink I use…..

contrary wife and others 011

I found by having a bit of a play emptying out a scrap bag or getting out a big selection of fat quarters* and making a colour wheel on the carpet, helps you to understand why certain combinations can look so good…it also helps you think about putting other colours together that you might not first think about.

variable star

I also like working with shades of the same colour,  especially where there’s lots of pattern in the fabric to compliment….the above block uses 3 different red prints….one is a bright lipstick red, one is a pinky red and one has red and pink together with highlights of blue…..while the pinks and reds used are different, they’re equal enough in tone to be pleasing to the eye…(if you took a black and white photocopy then the pinks would be one grey and the reds another)

garden square

Another example of using shades of the same colour is this little block….4 different fabrics are used, 3 which are blue based (one dark and two mid tones) then the other fabric which although has blue and pink in it is a “white” colourway of the print…..all the fabrics used are prints rather than solid colours as I prefer to work with those and often pick up tiny dabs of colours from one print and then work to match that with a contrasting fabric.

tulip print star

Analogous colours are when you pick colours that sit next next to each other on a colour wheel (such as red and orange, blue and green, blue and purple)…. There’s no jarring when you use them together, and they’re generally pleasing to the eye.

I tend to pick one stronger colour to be the main focus and then another to compliment it….the yellow print above is quite an intense colour, there are flecks of it in the floral print but the orange tulips are what the eye wants to focus on first.

gnarly tree bark and bluebells

You often find analogous colours together in nature which may be why they seem more restful to the eyes than colours that bounce off each other….(yellow and green daffodils or primroses…blue and green bluebell woods or forget me nots….)…when a blue and green look this stuning in real life then you know that when you pick these colours for embroidering or knitting or patchwork (or even a wardrobe choice) then that will look equally beautiful.

knitsonik book

I’ve mentioned the Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook several times before on my blog and it’s such an excelllent reference book for understanding colour choices, looking at depth of colour, lights and dark, creating movement that is needed for knitting (but which I find essential for patchwork too)…..and while I’ve yet to create any stranded knitting yet of my own (also known as Fairisle knitting) I’ve found it an incredibly helpful book to read regarding how I pick and chose colours for my patchworks….as an inspirational starting point it’s so good….it’s not a random book of pretty pictures (though many are really beautiful) Felix can see the beauty in patches of tarmac on the road or in Victorian brickwork, everyday things that often are overlooked……it’s the enthusiasm and encouragment that are found within the pages along with the colour theory and thoughtfulness about colour choices that help make this such a great book.

love in a mist

I know from past experinces that if I’m making ice-creams or am out picking blackberries and scarlet coloured haws, the colours I see in my kitchen or in the hedgerows (which then stain my fingers) soon crop up in my fabric choices…

corn beans and triplets 008

Sometimes my colour choices are suble, gentle tones that blend into one another… “the quilt police” would no doubt frown upon these as there’s not enough contrast, all light and no shade but I love that sun faded look these soft prints give…(generally speaking for a succesful patchwork, one where there’s a good overall balance, you do need plenty of contrast but time and time again I find myself favouring those lights…..and I’m never a great stickler to rules)

quarterfoils

Other times the contrast is there both in tone and pattern…a mix of delicate floral print combined with bold brighter hues…..

springtime inspired 002

I’ve not yet tried this with my knitting but I’ve enjoyed experimenting and playing with colour with my crochet…..I like using combining subtle shifts in colour and tone…..

crochet colourwork 005

…with swift changes that flitter back and forth…..

oooh my aching eyes....

Some combinations aren’t always so succesful but they only take seconds to rip out and start again…

A little exercise I find quite useful to do is to paint up a series of the same block (something simple like a churn dash or star), trying out one colour (or tint) with all the others……pink with red, green, blue, grey, orange and so on….different blues with purple,green,yellow,grey…..some you’ll love, some you’ll hate but I’m sure you’ll see some that you hadn’t thought would look all that but which are a very pleasant surprise….

*you could of course use wool, embroidery threads, tapestry wool but you might want to put a clean sheet down first as those tend to pick up carpet fluff a lot more than fabric.

Unicorns, woolly pips and rainbows……

knit pro needles and baby blue tapestry wool

About a month ago lovely Louise Hunt of The Caithness Craft Collective podcast set up an unkal over on Ravelry……it’s a really different kal/unkal to ones I’ve seen before…she’s split it up into 3 divisions…..division 1 is Leave it (I really want to laugh becasue when Louise says “Leave it” on her podcast she uses a very stern deep voice, and sounds like she’s doing her Grant Mitchell voice, but with a lovely Scottish accent)…this is for a project that you’ve had tucked away or forgotten about…you love it but you haven’t been working on it in an age…you’re asked to get it out, keep it somewhere where you’ll see it, and then on June 1st take a picture with the date showing you’ve not been working on it…and then if you can try and finshed it by September 1st.  I love this division and have entered my grannies paperweight blanket as those woolly tails weren’t sewing themselves in like I had hoped they might…..  I’m not doig the 3rd division as that is for frogging and I don’t have anything that needs that doing but division 2 in to knit your “unicorn”….a “unicorn” isn’t what you think but is instead a project you want to knit but there isn’t a current kal for it, and you just want to do it, it’s a project you’ve been loving for a while but hadn’t found the time to knit it…..

bright little pips of coloured wool

Some time ago I’d seen a Moonraker shawl and thought it looked so clever but I couldn’t knit, it didn’t quite capture my heart like the Open Sky shawl and make me pick up the needles with shawl lust but I still really liked it, anyway once I was feeling more confident with my knitting I happened to see another picture of a Moonraker inspired shrug and thought now I can knit I know what I plan to get on my needles next so bought the pattern…..but I actually found the pattern at first look a bit puzzling and couldn’t understand what I was being told to do….I’m one of those people who needs to be shown how to do something rather than just read instructions and luckily lovely Anne was on hand to show me quite what I had to do to make the “woolly pips” that thread along the pattern……but then it sort of got sidetracked by my sock knitting.

bright pips of colours

Once the third pair of socks had been cast off I sat down with the Moonraker pattern and after a morning of concentrating and numerous cups of tea something clicked and I was knitting it quite happily.  As I’ve mentioned before I don’t have a huge budget for yarn, so I had a think about what I had in my yarn stash and thought about the fat skeins of tapestry wool I’d bought late last Summer…..the skeins are huge and I thought they’d be great for knitting and so cast on…….about 6 or 7 inches in I had a bit of a re-think as the tapestry wool was actually a bit heavy for the whole shawl so I had another rummage and found some skeins of Artesano alpaca and silk that I’d sort of forgotten I even had….oddly the colour was actually almost the same shade as the tapsestry wool .. So another cast on and this time the fabric flying off my needles was drapey and light, lovely and floaty…..

I started off by using Knitpro rosewood needles that I bought from MeadowYarn which is one of my favourite shops….(it’s all on-line and lovely Anj only lives a mile or so away from where I grew up in Suffolk.  Her customer service is 5 star.)  These were perfect with the heavier tapestry wool however once I switched to the alpaca silk I had to drop down a couple of sizes and have switched to first an Addi needle and am now on some Knit Pro zings which I’m finding very light and comfortable.  I love using wooden needles first and foremost and wish Brittany made circular needles as those are my most favourite brand in the world.  They feel so right in my hands and the sound of them gently clicking with the shuffle of something sheepy is so satisfying…very comforting.

artesan moonraker

The top three pictures are from when I was using tapestry yarn so you can see how similat the alpaca/silk is.

I didn’t have money to buy other shades of the alpaca/silk so used what I knew I had lots of….tapestry wool, and I really like how the pips are coming out, all fat and squishy… the origninal pattern only called for a few colours but I realy wanted this to be a bright and cheerful as possible.  The pips themselves are fat and podgy, so much nicer to squidge than bubble wrap.

tapestry pips

The shawl construction is very nice to work and while I was working on this sherbety pip one I also made and finished one in un-dyed Nature’s shades that has barely left my shoulders since it was blocked.

I like that the garter stitch rows are really easy to count and keep track of where you are in the pattern, I still find this a bit hard in stocking stitch…the increases/decreases are simple to remember and the woolly pips…well they own my heart.

I tried to look for colours that matched what I was seeing outside, all spring blossoms and new leaves appearing in hedgerows and along verges……tapestry yarn is also really easy to spit and splice so you can soon make two shorter pieces into a longer workable length……however, after the horrified look I got from someone last Friday when I did this in public it might be best to do the joining at home….

reverse of the moonraker

I like the back of the pattern almost as much as the front, the woolly pips are all tucked in quite safely….there will be a few tails to sew in but I laugh at the thought of 56 tails compared to the many thousands I’ve had to deal with on my grannies paperweight blanket.

tapestry wool pips

Progress is coming along quite nicely and up til now it’s been quite manageable to have in my basket when I’m on the bus, in fact last week I had a couple of lovely chats with ladies who were very curious as to how I was knitting and making the pips……I’m not shy about knitting in public as I used to crochet on the bus all the time…and have met and chatted to so many really interesting people, heard stories about mums and grannies who knitted from delightful elderly gentleman who when reminiscing became all sparkly eyed…..ages and ages ago I was crocheting on the London Underground (a rare day trip to London) and when I looked up to check which station we were at saw a sea of smiling faces as people looked to see what I was doing.

my favourite pips

I think this is my favourite row so far…these colours are just so perfect ….makes me fair beam from ear to ear to see them.  The bottom colour is quite a lilacy blue and it sits with those greens so well.

mistake

Now I’m not sure if I’m hormonal or what but I felt the need for some proper purples……I’m still rather in two minds about my choice of colour here but I’m keeping it in…..I  ran out of yarn for the bottom pip so spit spliced another shade in and then when I worked the second row of the pip found it formed a nice dark/light coffee bean shape.

And I’ve made a mistake…nothing major like too many stitches or something that needs serious adjusting or frogging but I forgot to tuck the yarn behind when I was working the last purple pip in the second row….once the shawl is finished I’ll go back and sew over it in a little left over yarn so it doesn’t get snagged…..

What I’m finding however is how  heart sick I feel for sheep wool on my needles…….the alpaca/silk is lovely and light, it’s incredibly soft and feels like when I stroke around Bernard’s ears…..but I miss the playfulness of real wool.  I loved knitting the Nature’s shades shawl, it smellt so good and the feel and texture of the woolly yarn is what I want from my knititng.  I don’t think I’m going to be a knitter that has her head all turned by merinos and silks…but instead crave yarn that shuffles over the needles, smells sheepy when it’s wet or warm, and which has tiny strands of unruly kempiness to surprise.  This little clip of Anna Maltz really captures how I feel….

I’m so glad that Louise set up the unkal, I’m really enjoying taking part…and if you have a care to then you should pop over and listen to her podcast, it’s very funny and she’s got a smashing voice to listen to.

Also, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Yarndale, the other day they put a picture of my grannies paperweight blanket on their facebook page (which I’m not on myself but my big sister sent me a message to let me know)…apparently people have been leaving lots of nice comments and it made a real rainbow of a day for me……thirteen years ago yesterday my dad died and I was feeling rather sad and blue, raining in my heart like Buddy Holly the last day or so you know and then when I opened my inbox it was so full and I couldn’t for the life of me understand what was going on……so to everyone who liked it and left nice comments on the Yarndale page and on my blog, it really has meant the world.

So it was meant to fit a tea pot……

asleep in Autumn sunshine

I think I’ve already mentioned a brilliant kal over on the Caithness Craft Collective Podcast Ravelry page…it’s split up into 3 divisions and you can take part in as many of those as you like….I’m already knitting a blue shawl using a very soft yarn from Artesano (it’s a more colourful version of my Natural shades Moonraker) for division two, and I’ve nominated my “grannies paperweight” blanket for division one where basically you just leave your ufo until the 1st of June…then if you want you can pick up your needles and try get it finished by 1st September….now I love my grannies paperweight blanket (and obviously so does someone else!) but sewing all the woolly tails in has been a proper drag…..the blanket isn’t even hid away, it’s on our bed so every night I’m aware of all those ends and sigh……having it be okay to just leave them until June the 1st is actually quite nice and it’s now quite hard to leave them and not starting sewing them in….

tea cosy front with 14 inch needles

But the blanket isn’t the only ufo/wip that has been a bit forgotten about….there’s also my teacosy….

I probably first ever learn to knit at primary school, I was always bottom of the class and my dishclothes would end up full of holes and be rather wonky shaped… in the years since I’ve had a few rather half hearted attempts at re-learning adn have been very goldfish brained, struggling to remember how to make simple stitches and just getting all frustrated…. I had another dabble about 5 years ago which is when I met my awesome friend Anne, she’s a wonderful knitter and has no end of patience….when I first went to her house I saw her tea cosy which was just the nicest little tea cosy cottage I think I’ve ever seen and she let me borrow the pattern and have a try at knitting my own…..

moss stitch box stitch and stocking stitch

I think I did everything wrong that I possibly could…first up the yarn….the pattern said 4 ply…I didn’t have any and all I could find in the charity shops was a larger weight so I bought that (a big old bag full of mixed creamy pure wool, mostly Aran but also some dk)…obviously I needed to use a larger needle than in the pattern and ended up knitting it on these 14 inchers (not the most sociable knitting to do on the bus…I was all elbows and knitting needles)….I felt quite pleased as I sort of mastered purl stitch but I had to count my stitches all the time as I found it really hard to tell if it was a purl or a knit on my needle…..I didn’t know about circular needles so my knitting was nearly always squished up while I was counting….

house cosy back with 14 inch needles

And then no matter how hard I tried, I kept making mistakes which I couldn’t correct, so lots of ripping out….finally between us we twigged that there was a mistake somewhere in the pattern so Ann kindly fixed one of the sections for me…..

At some point the Aran run out and I doubled up my dk…..so this is totally not the most consistently gauged item that’s been on a pair of knitting needles.

Knitting the side sections was a bit easier as I could do those on a pair of 12 inch needles, around this time I began calling it a cushion cover as when I’d told people it was a tea cosy they all burst out laughing and made comments about “like to see the size of that tea pot”…..looking back I sort of wonder what i was thinking…I really didn’t realize using Aran instead of 4ply and knitting it on 6mm needles was going to make a huge difference.

house cosy sides

I was sort of losing heart with it at this point but attempting the roof was the straw that broke this camels back….the original one in the pattern says it’s knitted in a dk so I cobbled together as much brown yarn as I could to make mine fat enough, then it’s ribbed and there are decreases or increases  (in pattern) and it just all got too much………finally it was all bundled up and pushed into a dark corner of my wardrobe…honestly it put me right off knitting for ages…apart from the odd dishcloth and coat-hanger.  I decided I was not a knitter……..

I’m so happy my knitting journey didn’t end there, falling in love with the “Open Sky” shawl helped so much, reading great knitty blogs and listening to podcasts has slowly helped me gain my knitting confidence and have been wonderful sources of inspiration and creativity…anyway, I found the tea cosy parts and think they deserve a second chance….not sure what I’m going to do regarding the roof but I’ve got a couple of months where I can practice my ribbing or try out something different.

Louise talks about this kal/unkal in the latest episode of her podcast which is number 147, when she says “leave it” it’s so funny….it made me laugh so much that it scared poor Bernard who jumped off my lap, trailing my knitting and yarn across the room with him, which put paid to my laughing pretty quickly…..

Even if you don’t want to join in the kal/unkal, then I’d still recommend listening to the Caithness Craft Collective podcasts, they’re very funny and Louise talks about all sorts of crafting, not just knitting and there is even whiskey tasting in some episodes.

(if you want an idea of size for my tea cosy, those sides just need buttons and I’d have the start of a cardigan or at least a risque Summer top for the beach.)

A wee Christmas stocking give-away….

weeny blue stocking with red pom pom trim

I’m trying to grab 5 minutes to catch up with a list of chores and half remembered need to dos before Christmas is upon us…the “invalid” is full of beans, objecting rather loudly at having to use indoor facilities and I’ve even been down the road and bought a new type of kitty litter as he didn’t care for the wood variety that we’d  bought and had by us…don’t think he he’s any more impressed with the new one but he’s not allowed out til he’s seen the vet again on Friday.  However he seems full of beans and is right perky, I think he’s downstairs at the mo entertaining my boyfriend’s mum and dad.

One of the things I’d intended to post last week was details of a Christmas give-away so it’s a few days later than I’d intended but with craft fairs and poorly pawed poppets the last some days have all been a bit of a blur.fingers crossed could be with you at the start of next week.

detail of blue snowflake embroidery

So this little stocking is looking for a new home, one where it’ll be filled to the brim with presents and have a fat and lumpy tummy.

It’s all embroidered by hand using vintage tapestry wool and inside it’s lined with a pretty striped fabric.  (sadly the bears don’t come with the stocking but maybe you’ll be able to find one of your own to squidge in on top of the other things you care to fill it with.)

If you’d like the chance to win it then just leave me a wee comment and you’ll be entered….

The draw will be held first thing Friday morning (December 18th) and will be posted off later that day so fingers crossed it should be with you before the big day itself.  I’m only able to post to UK addresses but you can still enter if you live overseas and would like it sent to someone in the UK (hope that makes sense…)

UPDATE…..Bernard has to go to the vets now Friday morning so the giveaway will run to late Friday afternoon with the draw taking place about 5 o’clock (or 1700 hours)  xx

UPDATE number two….this giveaway is now closed.

Stockings and tit mice and Conductor 71….

weeny red stocking with red stars

I’m just finishing off a few last minute stockings for Clutter City tomorrow, I find it easier to sew the linings in by hand and tend to wait til there’s half a dozen or so stockings to sew in one one session, these all get piled into a basket then I sit and watch a Christmas movie or a black and white film, all the while trying not to drop pins on the carpet…..and budging Bernard away from what I’m ding….

green weeny sized stocking with blue ribbon

I’m really pleased with how these little stockings have turned out, especially the ones where I get to incorporate the original blanket stitching around the top of the stockings….sometimes keeping it simple works best and while I’m all for a little bit of pom pom trim, there’s something about the pared down stockings that makes me so happy when I see a pile of them all piled up around me.

I needed to go into town yesterday and it was so busy, I just felt so overwhelmed with the noise, people, gaudiness and buy buy buy what was going on….I didn’t need to buy much, but it still took me all day.  I was just happy to finally get the key in the door and get indoors, kettle on, squeeze and cuddle with Bernard, and then some quiet time knitting on the sofa before getting tea ready.

purple bird hot water bottle cosy

Along with finishing up the stockings I’ve also finished some more hot water bottles, like the stockings there’s a selection in my Folksy shop.  I don’t often make purple things but I had some dyed blanket left over from when I used to make fragrant bunnies (the bunnies were purple with lavender embroidery on their tummies and then they were filled with lavender and linseed)…..I’ve actually found some woolly templates for what looked like the start of my own little bunny warren that I’d all cut out and began embroidering but hadn’t finished sewing up so fingers crossed I’ll have them all ready for the start of the new year. (both the lavender and rose smell so nice and they look pretty tucked into drawers or under your pillow).

 

green hot water bottle cosie with brown bird applique

This was probably my favorite of the latest batch of cosies, I really liked the brown and green together and if it doesn’t sell this weekend may very well find itself tucked beneath my bed covers Saturday night…..it makes me think of the little brown birds we get in our garden, the sparrows and dunnocks that aren’t are flashily coloured as the chaffinches or tits but which can still keep me entertained for hours as I sit and watch them hop about under the raspberries or on the feeders.

I had some laundry to put out this morning and kept hearing the squeekiest chirp noise, I looked up at the big sycamore tree which overlooks our garden and the branches were filled with a right banditry of tit-mice..then about half of them flittered over the fence and balanced themselves on the raspberry canes, bird feeders and apple trees…one brave little fellow perched on the washing line and chirped at me with all his might…I’d put plenty of food out this morning so I don’t think it was a request for more, perhaps compliments to the chef….these are my favourite bird and it’s always so lovely to see them in the garden as Long tailed tits are nearly always in groups of at least half a dozen…..their colouring is so gorgeous all chalky powder white with rose tints and grey and black flecks of fluff…I can’t help but think of the powdered mice from Beatrice Potter books when I see them…or Conductor 71 from A Matter of Life and Death……(while David Niven is all dapper and charm, it’s Marius Goring who I really adore…)

The Clutter City fair is on tomorrow (Saturday 12th December) from 11 til 4 at Norwich Arts Centre on St Benedicts Street.

As I mentioned the other day there’s 10% off if you tell me the magic word*

(*the fluffiest, sleepiest, trumpety trumpster in the whole wide world)