Monthly Archives: August 2011

Patchwork Knitting Workshop 20th August 2011

Saturday 20th August began fairly early for Mummy and I. After collecting together all our knitting bits and pieces we hopped in the car and drove to Marlow Bottom, Bucks, to help Jill, Rosie, and Jill’s husband Roy get the hall arranged for our Patchwork Knitting Workshop. Sue, one of the attendees, and her husband also very kindly arrived early to help us. The hall is a lovely size, and very convenient, but unfortunately this year we discovered when we arrived that they had just painted all the woodwork the day before, and the place stank of paint πŸ™ Something we were not very happy about, especially since Jill booked the hall months ago so they certainly had plenty of warning that we were coming.

At 9 I popped to the station to pick up Mary, one of the other attendees, and then once we were back and everyone had arrived and got themselves installed we started a lovely day of knitting at 9.30.

Here are some of the attendees in action, although this was actually taken later in the day:

The theme for this year’s workshop was chevrons. In his books Horst calls these Herringbone. So we started off with chevrons, either on their own or joined to mitred squares, depending on what each person was interested in. After a tea break (very well orchestrated by Roy), we then looked at triangles, to fill in the space at the top of a chevron, or between two mitred squares on the diagonal. We then got onto different methods of joining as you go. We started off with joining one strip you are working on to one you have already finished, in three different ways, and then went on to three-needle cast-off for joining two already worked pieces after lunch.

Here is Penny’s sample, showing a mitred square, two chevrons, triangles, and a knitwise join:

Lunch was again very well organised by Roy. He took all our orders during the morning and then went out to the Fish and Chip shop to collect them just before we broke for lunch. We had a lunch table set up away from the knitting so people could leave their work in progress as it was without having to pack up, and yet we could all sit together and chat over our meal.

After lunch we continued with joining methods, and then moved on to making a paper template for a jumper, to your own measurements. This is a method that Horst advocates, that you make a paper template and then can keep trying your knitting up against it until it is the right size and shape. It lends itself well to knitting in modules, or also freeform knitting and crochet. However he doesn’t really show you how to create the template from your own measurements. So we talked about how to take your measurements, and where you need to be measuring, and then using the very kind and accomodating Mary as our beautiful model we measured her and drew up a template for her for a long length jumper / jacket with modified drop sleeves (also sometimes called square set-in sleeves), a round neck, and waist shaping. We only covered drop shoulders and modified drop shoulders, since really set-in sleeves can be a day’s workshop in themselves, and the two basic shapes we covered are a good introduction, and also lend themselves well to patchwork knitting.

After everybodies brains were filled up with measuring and calculating, we moved on to show and tell. I love to see all the creative things people have been working on since we last saw them. So many great ideas, and beautiful knitting. Very inspirational.

Here is the table full of items ready for show and tell:

To finish off the day Jill and Rosie had had a great idea for how to go about planning your next patchwork knitting project. Armed with a block of post-it notes, they drew on the row lines for mitred squares, and cut some to make triangles. You can then play around arranging them on a convenient surface until you have a pattern you like, before you start the knitting.

The tidying up went surprisingly quickly, and after hardly any time we were waving everyone off and saying hello to my aunt and uncle who had come to pick Mummy up for the next leg of her round Britain tour.

It was a lovely day, I hope that the other attendees enjoyed it half as much as I did.

National Spinning Week

Back at the beginning of May was National Spining Week, which I spent demonstrating at Clandon Park again with the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers. I had a great time, it was lovely to chat to so many people. Also this year we brought along one of the guild wheels and so were able to let people have a go themselves. We had lots of kids have a go, who were all very quick on the uptake, even though some of them had trouble reaching the treadles while sitting on the chair!

I always like to have something nice and loud to spin at these events. It is nice to have a variety of things that we are all spinning to show that spinning doesn’t have to be all brown (although I do like brown too πŸ™‚ ). So this year I was spinning some supersorted bluefaced leicester from Baby Long Legs in Tangy Doddle Tastic, which I bought at Knit Nation last year. I think the supersorted part means that it is the best quality bluefaced leicester, it certainly feels nice.

I spun a 2ply construction, which is about commercial 4ply in thickness. I have 104g and 342m. I split the top in half length wiseΒ  in order to spin the two separate plies, so the colours merge slowly from one to another. My plan is to make the Marywarmers fingerless mittens pattern, though I might make them a bit shorter in the arms. They wont be identical because I didn’t split the fibre in two to make two lots the same when I started, but hopefully that will add to their charm πŸ™‚ It was a very nice fibre to spin, and I love the colours.

London Surrey Cycle Classic

Today was the day of the London Surrey Cycle Classic road race. They were testing out the proposed route for next year’s Olympics, and seeing as it passed only 2 or 3 miles from our house I thought I would pop out and watch the excitement.

It was all good fun. I arrived nice and early (I was the first person to park my car at my designated spot – I had picked a place which isn’t too close to where people live so it was quite nice and quiet), set up my chair and my knitting, and sat down to knit a couple of rows while I waited for the action. Here is my little encampment, the yellow bag contains the knitting:

As you can see from the view up the road:

And the view down the road:

I pretty much had the place to myself when I arrived. A few more people did come later, but it wasn’t exactly crowded.

After a bit of a wait, in which a couple of safety cars went by, and then an info car telling us a bit about how the race was going, the leading motorbikes arrived:

Shortly followed by the breakaway 2 riders, and first section of peloton:

Then the second section of peloton:

And the third section of peloton:

Followed by a little bunch of stragglers (you can hear the people up the road cheering them on):

Then came a couple of groups of cyclists who I don’t think had race numbers on, and they weren’t followed by hoards of cars, so I think they were keen amateurs:

Then came some more amateurs, and a couple of lorries collecting up any rubbish that had been thrown by the cyclists:

My camera isn’t actually a video camera so the videos aren’t terribly good, you can’t zoom while you are in video mode, but I enjoyed making them πŸ™‚ A fun day out, and I managed to knit about 3 rows πŸ™‚

Wonderwool Wales 2011

In April we had a lovely week’s holiday in Bath. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, we had to go and buy extra emergency sun-cream, and didn’t need to use our waterproofs at all! I won two tickets in a competition held by the Knitting and Crochet Guild, so at the end of the week we also had a wonderful day at Wonderwool Wales.

It was lovely to look round the show and see what everyone was selling, I was so wrapped up in it that I completely failed to take any photos. One of the things I particularly enjoy about this show is the space. There is plenty of space between the stands, and around the edges of the stands that you have somewhere you can pause and think, and it doesn’t feel claustrapobic at all.

I bought some baby alpaca fibre from John Arbon.

This stuff is so incredibly soft. We really need feely-vision so you can appreciate it πŸ™‚

I’m not sure what I am going to do with it yet. At the moment it is sitting on top of the piano so I can give it a little stroke each time I pass by πŸ™‚

I also bought British Sheep & Wool by the Wool Board from P&M.

I am looking forward to reading this and learning more about British sheep breeds and their fibres.

I was a bit tired at the show, it was at the end of a hectic week of sight-seeing and enjoying ourselves. But I did manage to say hello to several people I know which was lovely. A very enjoyable day out, and a lovely holiday.

PS. Happy birthday Mummy!

Unravel 2011

On the last weekend of February was the Unravel show at the Maltings in Farnham. This is the third year it has been held, and it just keeps getting better (it also helps that I wasn’t horribly jet-lagged this year!). They had a great knitted sign up over the entrance to welcome everyone:

And some lovely Gotland sheep from Well Manor Farm were outside too:

I helped with the Surrey Knitting and Crochet Group, and with the West Surrey Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. We have a lot of over-lap of members between the two groups so we were sharing about half of the cellar area, and several people were helping with both groups depending on what was needed at the time. We had an exhibition of our work, and were also answering knitting and crochet queries (in my case only knitting, my crochet is a bit basic), and showing people how to spin. Here are Janine and tall Heather (I think that sadly makes me short Heather) setting everything up.

We also had a lot of fun with a spinning wheel that a lady brought in that she had bought in France, I think from an antique shop, for a very advantageous price, which she wanted to get working and learn to spin on. It was actually a double drive wheel, but rigged up as double drive with some of Mary’s string it was a bit temperamental and we had a lot of trouble with the drive band popping off. So with some more string and a couple of elastic bands we rigged it as Scotch tension (with no damage to the wheel, this could all easily be undone) and it span beautifully. The owner did very well starting spinning on it, and I hope has succeeded in her quest for some more bobbins for it too. I do enjoy a nice engineering challenge πŸ™‚

We had one low point to the weekend when we thought that the handbag of one of our older members had been pinched, but fortunately it turned out that it had just been mistakenly picked up by another member (oh the difficulties of everyone having black handbags) and so was returned to Nan when it re-emerged from under a car seat a couple of days later.

There were several talks and workshops during the weekend, which unfortuantely I didn’t manage to get to, but I did get a chance to dash round and have a quick look at all the exhibitors despite the fact that we were very busy all weekend. I was surprisingly restrained with my purchases (which could have had something to do with the number of enthusiastic people we had come to chat with us so I didn’t have too much time for buying – probably better for the old wallet).

I bought some 90% Exmoor Blueface, 10% nylon fibre from John Arbon:

As the name suggests Exmoor Blueface is a sheep which is a cross between an Exmoor Horn and a Bluefaced Leicester. It has the robustness of the Exmoor, but the longer staple, and softness of the Bluefaced Leicester. My plan is to dye this and then spin some yarn for socks. It isn’t the softest yarn in the world (the Exmoor is quite a robust wool) but it should be hardwearing hopefully, which is a good quality in socks.

I also bought two balls of the new Excelana 4ply yarn in Ruby Red, also from John Arbon.

This is a blend of 70% Exmoore Blueface, and 30% Bluefaced Leicester and is a collaboration between John Arbon and Susan Crawford. I think this will also be destined for socks, I am hoping that it will show textured patterns well.

As is often the case with these events the best thing was the opportunity to meet and chat with so many enthusiastic and knowledgeable people. All of the people who came to learn to spin were very quick on the uptake (it really does put my own speed of learning to shame!). It was lovely to catch up with lots of people I don’t see very often and hear and see what they are up to at the moment, and also great to meet lots of new people too. Roll on next year!

Shortly after Unravel, I finished spinning the Bowmont fibre I had started spinning while at the Devon Fibre Retreat (bought on the Devon Fibre Retreat the previous year).

I have a total of 103g and 302m of a 2ply construction, approximately commercial 4ply weight yarn. I am not totally happy with how this has come out. As you can see it is a bit all over the place, and not very consistent at all. I found the fibre to be a bit sticky, I know a lot of people like a bit of lanolin left in their fibre when they spin it, but I am not one of them. I have very sticky hands (particularly in hot weather) and have trouble sticking to the fibre if it is not completely clean. There were also quite a lot of noils and second-cuts in the fibre, which was disappointing. It looked like it had gone through machinery that wasn’t really capable of dealing with such a fine fibre. I did start off trying to remove them all, but quickly realised that if I did I would have nothing left! I’m not quite sure what I am going to do with the yarn, I shall continue to ponder. It has been a learning experience πŸ™‚ It would probably have come out better if I had tried a more woollen (rather than worstead) approach, which is another reason why I need to improve my woollen spinning.


Tiger blanket

For my niece Jenny’s Christmas present I knitted her a blanket. I cut it a bit fine, and actually finished after tea on Christmas Eve, luckily Jenny is still young enough that she didn’t notice I was knitting her present in her presence. The colours were chosen by my sister, Jenny’s mum to coordinate with her pram.

The pattern is by Steve Plummer and Pat Ashforth, and it is done in shadow knitting, a cunning combination of knits and purls which means when you look at the knitting straight on it just looks like stripes, and you only see the pattern when you view it from an oblique angle. It is a bit of a devil to photograph, as you can see I haven’t done terribly well. It is supposed to be a tiger’s head, but you might have to use your imagination.

To get the illusion to show you need to create a fairly firm fabric. So I used 3.5mm needles and DK weight yarn. The yarn is Knit Picks Swish DK, a superwash merino wool yarn, the orange colour is called Persimmon Heather, and the grey is called Marble Heather.

It wasn’t the easiest pattern in the world to knit because it is pictorial so there is no rhythmn to get into and you have to refer to the chart on every row. The pattern is well written and clear though which definitely helps.

Jenny is doing pretty well in the blanket stakes, she also has this lovely one with farmyard animals Swiss-embroidered onto it, made by my mum, Jenny’s grandmother.

Christmas also brought some wonderful new books for me. These are from Anna, a school friend, it was lovely to be able to catch up with her while we were both staying with our parents:

And these from Paul’s parents:

Lots of great inspiration!

A Christmas stocking for Jenny

Last Christmas was my neice Jenny’s first Christmas, so I thought she had better have a Christmas stocking with her name on it, even if she was a bit young at 3 months to really understand.

Here is one side:

And here the other:

The snowflake is a traditional Scandinavian pattern:

The reindeer came from a free Drops pattern, but I’m afraid I can’t remember which one:

And the letters and the tree came out of my head:

Here it is full of presents (provided by her parents) on Christmas Eve after she had gone to bed.

The yarn is Cascade 220 which Annie and Mummy bought at Knitty City, Annie’s local yarn shop in New York, and I used 3mm needles. The yarn is an American worsted weight, which is a bit thicker than our DK weight, but thinner than our Aran weight, so the needles I used are very small for the thickness of yarn. This makes a nice firm fabric that will hold its shape hopefully through years of wear, and the presents wont poke out.