Monthly Archives: March 2010

Joining in the sleeves

The day before I headed off for Skip North I finally got to the point where I joined in the sleeves for Autumn in Anatolia. (feel free to imagine the dance of great achievement I am now doing)

I also ended up having a bit of a late night despite the next day’s early start because I wanted to knit at least 4 rows and make sure I hadn’t accidentally twisted one of the sleeves or anything similarly awful.

The sleeves are set-in style but I am knitting them in the round in one piece with the body (there was much calculating that went into that one!). After a week and a half of manic knitting I have now finished the decreases on the body for the bottom of the armhole, and am now back to only two pages of charts rather than the previous three, which was rather unwiedly. Although it does mean that I am now doing four decreases per round rather than the previous eight, so progress is slowing up a bit.

I put the underarm stitches for both the body and the sleeves onto holders initially, but was getting a bit worried that with all the taking it in and out of my knitting bag that the stitches were getting stretched. So on Sunday I had a big session and sewed in a lot of the loose ends from when I had changed colour, and also grafted the underarms. IN FAIRISLE! I can’t sufficiently convey how pleased I am that this has come out well. I am very proud. There was much jumping round the living room with glee.

I even showed it to Mummy on skype, but I think it is hard to appreciate the marvelousness with only a grainy webcam picture.

The graft is the final row of the stripes. I am hoping it will look a bit more even after I have blocked the whole jumper.

Skip North 2010

Last Friday I packed the car well before my normal getting up time and trundled over to pick up Joanne (only 5 mins late, I am improving!) to head off for a weekend of knitting fun in Haworth for Skip North 2010. The drive up went surprisingly well considering that there were roadworks every couple of miles all the way up the M1 (and on the M3 and the M25 too).  We arrived at our B&B at lunchtime, and discovered there had been a mistake with Joanne’s booking, and that although there was space for her on Friday night, there was no room on Saturday. Luckily a spare room was found at the Youth Hostel for the Saturday, so after unloading our stuff from the car (I seemed to have brought a greater volume of knitting than I had clothes) we trundled up the hill to the Youth Hostel to check in and get our acts together for the afternoon workshops.

I did Sue‘s workshop on shadow knitting first. I had read a bit about shadow knitting (also called illusion knitting) before, and seen Steve’s fabulous work, but never given it a go, so this seemed the ideal opportunity. It is great fun, and I love the moment of discovery when you tilt your work and see the pattern appear.

Here is my sample as seen from above:

Can you tell what it is yet?

I am looking forward to having more of an experiment with this technique.

Then I did a workshop with Jane on different kinds of colour knitting. Here is the cup cosy I knitted:

The two coloured braid is a Twinded Herringbone braid, and the single coloured braid is a Vikkel braid. I am definitely looking forward to incorporating these in something in the future. There is also a bit of mosaic knitting, and a double strand cast on using two strands the same colour, and a double strand cast off using one strand of each colour.

After tea was the P/Hop swap. People brought along yarn, needles and books they no longer wanted, then other people could claim it in exchange for a donation to Medecins sans Frontieres made later through the P/Hop website. Here is Nic presiding over the chaos.

After the swap we all sat around knitting and chatting. It was lovely to see old friends and meet new ones, and to spend time with other enthusiastic and knowledgeable knitters.

Luckily after all this excitement Saturday featured a bit of a lie in. We had a fantastic cooked breakfast at the B&B and then made our way up to the Youth Hostel to catch the bus at 11am. First stop was Coldspring Mill, a strange combination of camping shop upstairs and bargain yarn basement downstairs. There were lots of lovely cotton yarns, although I managed to resist. I actually have a lot of cotton yarn still despite giving a lot away last year, and find that it is a bit painful on my hands to knit with, I think from now on I shall stick with blends. They had quite a selection of other yarns too, there seemed to be a lot of pale yellow about, unfortunately not really my colour.

Then it was back on the bus, where we ate our sandwiches, despite thinking we would never need to eat again after breakfast, and headed off to the Knitting and Crochet Guild. Liz gave us an interesting talk and showed us a lot of things from the guild collection, then it was time for a spot of shopping with KCG Trading. Unfortunately the book I was hoping to look at hadn’t arrived yet, but I did manage to get a skein of wonderful radioactive green sock yarn 🙂

This is Trekking Hand Art, 100g, 420m, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, the colour is officially called Brazil.

Tired but happy after a hard days shopping we piled back on the bus back to the Youth Hostel and yet another great meal 🙂

In the evening we were treated to a talk by Shaun and Julie of County Alpacas. A very interesting talk about the history of alpacas in the UK and the situation currently. I loved this opportunity to hear more about the fibre industry, and their alpacas are very cute! They also brought with them some lovely fibre and yarn from their own animals, so I bought a 250g bag of black fibre. I haven’t quite decided what I am going to do with it yet. It is special so I want to do it justice, I shall think on it for a bit.

Sunday was a bit of an earlier start with the coach departing at 9am. I was cutting it a bit fine as I screeched into my parking space just after the bus drew up, and had just enough time to dash in and grab my packed lunch while everyone else started to board the bus. The early start was because Sunday was Wingham Wool Works day, which is about an hour to an hour and a half from Haworth, depending on the traffic.

Despite having been there a couple of times before, and the last time only in November it still took me a while to stop being overwhelmed by all the fibre and actually start to look at everything properly! We were very fortunate that the weather was lovely. Great for standing outside in a daze while contemplating more different colours of fibre than you know what to do with.

I managed to fill my bag with a few little goodies.

I got three different colours of rainbow merino / silk tops. I think this blend is 70% merino, 30% silk. I got somewhere between about 150g and 200g of each (I wasn’t being terribly accurate with my measuring).

These are all going to be sock experiments. I am going to try and spin a tightly twisted 3ply and see how they wear.

I also got a little selection of their sample fibre bags.

Corn, ramie (nettles), milk protein, two kinds of tussah silk, and banana fibre.

These little sample bags are such a great idea, you have enough fibre to play with and see whether you like it, without having to have 100g of something which it may turn out you are not that keen on.

After we had shopped until we dropped, and had a quick drink in the pub down the road, it was back on the coach to the Youth Hostel for the final tea and cake and goodbyes, and then time to wedge all our new purchaes into the car.

I had a wonderful weekend, and have come away with so many ideas, as well as some rather yummy yarn and fibre. I love these opportunities to spend time with so many lovely knitty people. A big thanks to Alex and Nic for all the organising and cat herding. There are better photos than mine on the flickr group.

The trip home wasn’t quite as smooth as had been hoped. Not awful, but there was a lot of stopping and starting and traffic as we made our way through the many roadworks. We made it home fine if a bit tired, and not too late in the end.

Manx Loghtan

I just finished spinning up some Manx Loghtan ( a rather funny looking sheep as you can see from that link). I bought the fibre from Wingham back in November and started spinning shortly after Christmas.

The fibre smelt quite rural, although that improved greatly after washing the finished yarn 🙂 and is quite hairy, producing a fairly hairy and slightly lumpy yarn.

I spun a 3ply and got 346m from 121g (the non-round number of grams is because if you go up to Wingham, then rather than buying fibre per 100g for most of the different types of wool you select a plastic bag and stuff in as much as you would like from an enormous coil of combed top, then pay for the weight you have got. I was aiming for slightly over 100g to allow me plenty to play with), in about a DK weight.

It has come out as quite a soft and bouncy yarn, though not as soft as Merino or Bluefaced Leicester. I am enjoying experimenting with different breeds of wool and seeing how they behave. In hindsight I didn’t put quite enough twist into the singles which meant that they drifted apart a few times as I was plying. All a learning experience, I will know for next time.  The finished yarn seems fine though and not too delicate. I am looking forward to knitting with it! It is going to be part of my Handspun Leaves Waistcoat, which I must get a move on with, it has been languishing on top of my speakers recently (yes there is yarn or fibre on every surface in this house!).

New York

As I mentioned in the previous post I missed the first half-day of Unravel due to being stuck in the US. This was a bit of a last minute trip, booked only the week before we went out there. Paul was sent out for a work trip, and I went along for the first week so I could go and see my sister Annie.

The travelling was also the reason behind the hastily cast-on portable projects. I didn’t take the jumper with me as I didn’t want to risk it being either confiscated or lost by the airline. We were staying in New Jersey, a 1 hour train ride from New York, so that gave me a good bit of knitting time on the journeys into and out of the city on the days I went to see Annie.

While we were there we did a mix of typical touristy visiting, and helping Annie and her husband Andy move into their new appartment and generally hanging out with them.

On the tourist front we went down to Brooklyn and walked back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn bridge, you can see the bridge in the background here behind Paul, Annie and Andy.

And we went to Thomas Edison’s factory and house in Orange, New Jersey (this is his house).

The house was interesting, and the factory definitely worth visiting. Edison was a man with many interests.

On my last day going in to the city Annie and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have been once before about 12 years ago, and was keen to see it again. It is a fascinating museum and I am looking forward to going again next time we go out to visit them.

As well as all the wonderful exhibits (including a whole temple from what is now the site of the Aswan dam) they have fantastic tiled mosaics on the floors in the Greek and Roman art section. There are 8 different mosaics, 4 circular, and 4 square. I love symmetrical patterns like these, particularly tiling patterns. I am hoping to do something on symmetry for my City and Guilds Diploma course (the Diploma is the course after the Certificate course I am currently doing), and so am collecting inspiring images.

As you can spot here one of the mosaics is in twice to make a nice grid.

We had a great time visiting the city and seeing Annie and Andy again, and were really lucky with the weather at the start of the week. It was colder than home, but warmer than New York had been the previous week, and lovely and sunny. Unfortunately after the first three days the rain started, and on the day I was due to come home it snowed all day and then there were high winds in the evening, so finally after attempting to take off once my plane was cancelled and we were all rescheduled to the day after. The next day was much better weather-wise and although we were a bit delayed it all went fairly smoothly, and I even managed about three hours sleep on the plane (this is quite good for me, I am not a very good traveller).

My travel socks are motoring along, although they have been abandoned now I am home in favour of the jumper. Pictures of knitting will come soon!


I spent a fabulous weekend helping out at the Unravel festival of knitting at the Maltings in Farnham. It has wiped me out a bit though, hence why it has taken me til today to sort out my thoughts and photos.

I was helping out with the Surrey Knitting Group, answering people’s knitting queries, knitting flowers (actually I failed miserably to knit any myself, but I did help other people with the patterns), and demonstrating how to knit socks (or any other small circumference bit of circular knitting) on one long circular needle. And also helping with the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers, demonstrating spinning and helping people to have a go themselves.

Here is our little corner, with a display of members work in the background.

I had been hoping to be able to help with the set up but was unfortunately stuck in New Jersey on Friday at the crucial time, and only made it back by Saturday lunchtime (more on that in the next post!).

There were more exhibitors than last year, and a very good range of interesting things to look at and buy. I noticed an emphasis this year on natural dyeing and undyed yarns and fibres, and it was great to see some raw fleece and rare breeds too. There were a few stands selling equipment, I think two or three doing spindles, and one doing wheels. It would have been nice to see more, but then this is still a very new festival and still finding its feet. There were two very nice looking button stands, Jenny Stacy had buttons made with fimo, I am definitely inspired to have a go at making some when I next finish a project which needs buttons, and Textile Garden had some very interesting buttons including beautiful wooden and metal ones.

We had a good number of volunteers on the stands this year, meaning that we had enough people to cope at busy times, and at quieter times we all got the opportunity to have a quick look round the rest of the exhibition and make a few purchases. I was partially saved from myself on this front by John Arbon doing such a roaring trade that when I went back on Sunday morning for some lovely merino / alpaca fibre I had seen on Saturday they had all sold out. I did manage to get a nice little spindle, I don’t know what make it is as it was unlabelled, but it weighs 35g and seems to spin very nicely. I surprised myself by enjoying it more than I thought I would.

I also got some yummy fibre from Fyberspates.

First 100g of green and blue Falkland.

And the piece de resistance, 100g of Sparkle, 63% merino, 20% silk, 15% nylon, 2% silver. Unfortunately my poor photography doesn’t really capture the sparkle terribly well, but it is there, and is sparkly 🙂

I had a great time at the show, and have nearly caught up on my sleep now. Lots to look at, and lots of interesting and keen people to talk to, some of whom hopefully might come along to the knitting or spinning group. Roll on next year!