Kate and the Beanstalk

Sometime last year, one of my oldest friends (who is not a knitter) said he would like to have one of my designs knitted up. He found a knitter who was willing and able to take on a commission through the UK Hand Knitting Association, decided on and bought the pattern from me, and then asked about sourcing Welsh wool appropriate for the project.

The design my friend selected was Beanstalk, originally published by Knit Picks, using Tuff Puff, one of their super bulky yarns. It really is super bulky too as there are only 44yds / 40m per 100g!

Now, I know there is a lot of gorgeous Welsh wool being produced, but neither he or I could find anything Welsh of quite that magnitude, so it was decided my friend would order the yarn from Knit Picks in the original colour and have it shipped directly to Kate Gray, the knitter he had found.

I was kept in the loop throughout the process, with Kate’s photos of knitting progress being sent on to me, and it was lovely to see one of my designs coming into being. My friend had never seen Beanstalk in real life and was just going from the original photos on the pattern and those sent to him by Kate, and I don’t think he had really got his head around quite how big and squishy it would be. It’s a big blanket – and weighs nearly 3kg. With that in mind, my friend thought it would be a good day out to come to Wales from London to collect Beanstalk in person, South Wales being where Kate is based. I was invited along too, to see the finished blanket, meet Kate and have a catch-up with my old friend.

And so, a train journey was planned. It wasn’t until I got to Wrexham station that I realised it would be my first train journey since the start of the pandemic. I was fully prepared with plenty of knitting, but I wasn’t expecting the train I had bought my advance ticket for two weeks previously to no longer be part of the schedule! The next train wasn’t for another 45 minutes. Never mind, time for a cuppa and some knitting and time to let them know I was running late. From there the journey went smoothly and I had nearly four hours of knitting time.

Once I did arrive at Neath station my friend was there waiting for me and we got a taxi to Glyn-Neath where Kate was waiting for us at Sgwd Gwladys with Beanstalk all beautifully parcelled up. Before we had lunch and lots of wonderful conversation, the first thing my friend wanted to do was to see Kate’s handiwork. And he promptly fell in love with it, keeping it out on the seat next to him throughout the meal. I’m not surprised, Kate had done a fantastic job.

After a very excellent lunch we popped outside for some photos – the rusty iron fence seemed like just the right place to drape Beanstalk and we had some pics taken with Kate and I on either side of it as well.

All too soon, it was time to go home. Of course, taxis get busy at 3pm with all the school runs and so I missed the train I was booked onto at 4.12pm by 2 minutes, but I caught the next just after 5pm and had another nearly four hours of knitting time! I got regular updates from my friend on his journey back to London as well, and it seems he was unable to stop admiring Beanstalk all the way home – he even loves the back!

Do you remember how I had just started my version of Tiffany last Tuesday?

Well, by the time I got back to Wrexham station that night there was a whole lot more of it in existence!

I was partway through Colour 5 by the time I got back to Wrexham. The rest of the week was taken up with the child’s cardigan – which is now done, apart from sewing on the buttons and weaving in a few ends!

On Sunday I was at Wonderwool, which was a wonderful yarn-filled day, and I bumped into a lot of knitting friends and acquaintances (including Kate!), but there was no knitting either there or during the journey (I was driving). I only did a few rows in the evening once I arrived at my mum’s house, but I’m now on Colour 7 and hope to have it finished and blocked in time for Buxton Wool Gathering in just under 2 weeks.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my Beanstalk adventure, even though there were no giants, golden geese or axes involved.

That’s all for today. Look out for more posts about Buxton Wool Gathering (and Wool@J13) on my social media platforms in the coming weeks! Take care all, K x

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