Monday, March 30, 2009


I'm tired at the moment. Very tired. I had a great time at SkipNorth but it was non-stop action, three nights of unfamiliar beds, lots of talking and though the food was fine it wasn't quite what I'd be eating at home and my innards, it seems, are getting fussier with age. At least though I didn't have to drive there and back...thanks, Natalie!

But in short I ended up at the start of last week dead tired, bunged up and with some sort of low grade opportunistic bug that made me feel a bit wabbit. No, scratch that. Very wabbit. Add to that seven loads of laundry (how can three people generate seven loads of laundry in four days???), the general backlog of housework and the sense of anticlimax that always comes after a fun trip away and...well, not a good week at all.

I am still tired. I even went back to bed a couple of times in the morning after I'd seen the kids off to school but then the clocks changed at the weekend, didn't they, and I ended up having to get up at what my body thought was 5.30am on Sunday in order to get the kids organised and off to swimming club. Bah.

And it's been bright and sunny, but with arctic gale winds ie it looks like a nice day for the allotment, but it's bloody cold and downright miserable when you get up there.


I am off to B&Q to buy some potting compost. At the very least I can do the non-strenuous task of starting off the tomato seeds, I suppose!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mr Greenjeans Pt1.

I came back from Skipnorth determined to knit more than socks and scarves for myself by next year. Everyone else seemed to be sporting fabulous knitted sweaters, jackets, cardigans and shawls, and what did I take? Socks, socks, socks. Really, I was not worthy..

I had a think about it on the way there actually, and came to the conclusion that while a lace shawl was going to be a given at some point in the near future, I seemed not to be wearing sweaters any more (too many hot flushes!!) so there was no point in knitting them at the moment. I'm too short and fat for most knitted jackets (the awful Bettna experience taught me that!) so basically, it was cardigans or nothing. Then something dawned on me. I do wear cardigans. All The Time. I wear a cardigan over a thin black cashmere sweater when it's cold, and over a black t-shirt when it's warmer. I wear cardigans out, in fact. So why am I not knitting them by the dozen? Why have I never knitted a cardigan for myself, ever??

Tell you why. It's the twinset image. Only old ladies wear cardies. But...perhaps that's because they're practical garments when you're in the Hot Flush stage? Oh.......

Lightbulb moment.

So when I was shopping at SkipNorth I was thinking "Cardigan?" And one of the things I bought was this....

This is Aracunia Nature Multi, 100% wool aran weight in sort of peacock colours. I bought it at Coldspring Mill at a bargain £3.99 a skein. There are 220m per skein so plenty for a cardi.

So I have firmly turned my eyes from the UFO pile and cast on for Mr Greenjeans from Knitty, Fall 2007.

1245 Ravelry Users can't be wrong!

Friday, March 27, 2009

You have to laugh...

I was told about spinning wheel cup holders by an American attendee at SkipNorth. I thought she was having me on. Apparently not. Look here....

Well......I can think of a few modifications I would like to make to some of my wheels but it's never occurred to me that I need to have quite such easy access to caffeine or alcohol while spinning. No wonder some folk can spin so fast!

Monday, March 23, 2009

SkipNorth 2009.

I got back from SkipNorth yesterday evening. It was, as always, a great weekend. Lots of talking, knitting, spinning, craft talk, shopping, wonderfully knowlegeable people, friends old and new, cake.....what else could you ask for, really? More time??? I did my best but I really didn't manage to get round everyone and there were several new folk I'd loved to have talked to longer and get to know better but really, there was just not enough time to do everything.

As usual I was too busy gabbing and shopping to take many picture but I've unpacked the stash and photographed it instead.

I drove down a day early on Thursday with Natalie. She wanted to go to Wingham Wool Work to do some fibre reconnaissance and I...well, I just wanted to go to Wingham. Plus we've found in the past it's a bit close for time to drive down on Friday mornings, given that I have to wait till the kids are off to school before I can get going. So we fitted in an extra day.

I must say I was extremely restrained at Wingham, given that at SkipNorth One I was the clear and outright winner in the Fibre Buying Contest.

Some purple toned merino and silk Rainbow tops, a small pack of ramie (nettle) fibre to try and some absolutely fabulous yak and silk tops.

We couldn't get booked in at the Haworth Youth Hostel on Thursday night, so headed for the Mankinholes YH ten miles down the road to meet up with Tutley Mutley, Wye Sue, blogless GreenMaggie and SallyJoy.

Yes, the kitchen of the YH does look like a pub!

Nest morning we all headed off to Texere, where I was also very restrained. Very!!

A pattern and a tube of beads for Princess. I was beginning to wonder if I was losing my touch at shopping....

Off to the Haworth YH for the official start of SkipNorth and the Friday pm workshops. I think it's best to draw a discrete veil over my pathetic efforts at double filet crochet but I did as always enjoy Lixie's Kool-Aid dyeing workshop.

This is merino fibre, 100g of each. I'm not totally happy with my choice of colours but I do have Kool-Aid, so might over dye some of the sections.

In the evening we had a yarn swap, where we all brought items from our stash which we did not want, threw them all into a heap on the floor and then had a wonderful free-for-all grab session. Good manners and a desire not to be seen to be too greedy kept this fairly civilised, have to say! We also had a fund raising event for p/hop, where donated items were offered in return for donations of money to p/hop and thus to Medecins Sans Frontieres.

(Psss...have you sent in your event donation yet???)

My haul from these two events...

Skein of Cascade 220 Peruvian Highland Wool. (Swap.)I have never tried any Cascade yarns before so was pleased to get this.

Skein of Manos de Uruguay silk blend, skein of Jitterbug, skein of JK Knits merino silk. (Swap.)

Two hanks of bronze aran weight silk, braid of hand dyed Shetland fibre from The Yarn Yard, "Knit One, Kill Two", a knitting mystery! (p/hop)

This sudden influx of nice bits and bobs must have reactivated my shopping mojo, because I ended up with a really good haul the next day at Coldspring Mill.

This is 700g of Araucania Nature Wool in purple and green aran(enough for a sweater); 100g of pale turquoise merino/silk/alpaca Araucania chunky; 100m of Noro silk/mohair/wool in bright turquoise (these last two are for knitting gifts for my sister, who likes teal/turquoise); 23 balls of Louisa Hardin Coquette in turquoise and coffee; a skein of frog green and daffodil yellow Araucania cotton; 400g of 75% bamboo/25% nylon Freedom Gorgeous in a soft green and finally one kilo of Debbie Bliss pure silk DK in an apricot colour for a cardigan for me. This last cost a mere £29.99, For a kilo of DB Silk!!

Coldspring Mill also sells camping gear, btw. They have some nice display tents up. Look what I found in the sleeping pod of this big 4-man tent...

My sort of tent!

Next stop was a double one, to The Skep and an astonishing mill-end haberdashery outlet called RL & CM Bond.

In The Skep I bought some patchwork fabric offcuts for Princess, and some sock yarn for a mother at the kids' swimming club. She has never knitted socks but as soon as she saw me knitting one she asked me to get her some yarn and teach her. Another convert...

At Bond's I got these, not sure why. It was WyeSue's fault. She made me.

In the afternoon we went to the headquarters of The Knitting and Crochet Guild, home of the 1p per gram Yarn Mountain.

I bought another gruesome doll dress knitting pattern, this one being a copy of that infamous black strapless dress Lady Di wore decades back and which caused such a kerfuffle. Yup, the one where she flashed the not-yet-royal boobs more than was decent.

Also Jan Messant's Knitted Gardens; 600g of Pingouin Highland aran in a nice burgundy colour at 1p per gram; some Jaggerspun Zephyr lace weight in Basil (I already have one ball of the same dye lot so that's the Aeolian Shawl sorted) and seven balls of an interesting merino/silk 4-ply cabled yarn, which was so tangled up I got it for £1 per ball.

AND...yes, yet more...I was given some lovely things by some lovely people.

Tutley Mutley gave me this for Lad...

WyeSue gave me some really rather fabulous things..

That's more Colinette Jitterbug, three skeins of Colinette Parisienne, some Regia Bamboo Color sock yarn, "Knitting without Tears" by the late great Elizabeth Zimmerman and a lovely book on angora rabbits and fibre.

There was also a box of chocolate truffles which was a present from blogless Cybil, but the box is already in the rubbish bin and I'm not getting it out just to take a photo of an empty box, lol.

So that was my haul.

Think it's a lot? See SkipNorth 1, SkipNorth 2 and SkipNorth 3 for you know, I thought I'd come home with less this year...but possibly not! However, some of it came from gifts and the swaps, plus p/hop so I certainly didn't spend as much this year.

So that's SkipNorth over for another year. This is a sad thing. SkipNorth is one of the highlights of my year. No it's not just about the swag. The best bit of Skipnorth is definately the people. Thank you all, for making it such a great event again!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shoot me...

Really, just shoot me now. The new Knitty is up and the white version of the Aeolian Shawl has caught my eye.

I keep looking at it and thinking...1100 yards? That's the same yardage as three pairs of socks. Three months max....


I take the sock knitting with me everywhere and do a few rows here, a few rows there. One pair of socks per month, just out of odds and ends of time and no looking at the pattern. I don't think this shawl would be quite the same. Plus, it's taken me three Forest Canopies just to get the pattern reliably into my head and I still make the odd mistake. I can reliably count no higher than a six stitch repeat, it seems, over a couple of hundred stitches. Maybe. I don't think this shawl woulld be quite as simple as that, would it??????

I just asked Lad if I should try and knit it. He looked and said "Why not? It might take you a few years though...."

Too true.

Ah well.

PS. In response to a comment made in my last post by Cynthia A., no, I couldn't put in another flyer hook, alas. I'd have no hesitation on some wheels but this one does not belong to me. It's on loan to our spinning group and basically I'm the only person there who's into weird wheels, so it's living with me at present. Also the flyer arms are cylindrical and would be difficult to drill, and it's such a beautiful wheel anyway I wouldn't want to disfigure it. I do think though that a second row of offset hooks on the opposite flyer arm would improve the wrap-on considerably and may comment on this to the current maker, if I'm in touch with him for any other reason.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Just a brief post to show that yes, I have indeed managed to master the WindWheel.

This is Blue Jeans, an utterly fabulous 75% merino 25% nylon blend which was the Feburary fibre from The Yarn Yard Fibre Club. It is dyed to look like old ripped and faded jeans, and it's a measure of Natalie's sure eye for colour that what looked a bit "Really???" in the braid is spinning up to give just the promised effect. (I promise to belive you next time, Natalie!)

I get a 200g sub, so this is 100g spun up to give singles that I trust will ply to a heavyish sock weight yarn. You can probably tell I'm going for a lot of twist here, which is easy with the WindWheel and its effortless not-quite-a-treadle pulley drive. It only has one ratio but frankly, you don't need ratios with this wheel. You just move from a slow waltz-beat toe tap to more of a cha-cha-cha. Big bobbins too, which easily hold the 100g in one braid of Natalie's fibre. My only small criticism of this wheel is that it doesn't have quite enough hooks on the flyer to wind the bobbin totally evenly. One more would have made all the difference between this peaks-and-valley effect you see here and a smoothly wound bobbin. Oh well, small complaint given that it's an otherwise superb wheel. I always rewind my bobbins on the trusty Louet S10 before plying anyway.

I will be taking the WindWheel to SkipNorth next week, by the way, so anyone that wants to play on it will be most welcome to do so. Ohhh, only ten more days to SkipNorth! I can hardly belive this will be my fourth year of going to it!