Mysterious Girl

Last week I met someone in the main car park of my little town and exchanged two jars of homemade preserves (blackcurrant jam and seville marmalade) for a large and very full black bin liner. It sounds very mysterious, doesn’t it?

The bag has since been sitting in my study as the other parts of my life have taken on some deadlines (more later) and I haven’t yet been able to play with the contents. But it keeps reminding me it’s there and every time I take a peek inside I get excited.

So, what on earth did I swap for jam and marmalade?

A black bin liner has its top rolled open to show it is full of freshly sheared sheep fleece

A fleece. A whole one, from a sheep named Doris. Here are her before and after shots!

She is currently Mandy’s only sheep and, knowing I have taken up spinning, she asked if I would like it. Oh, yes please! It’s completely unprocessed and Mandy and her hubby sheared Doris themselves. Doris is a very clean sheep so there are not too many bits in it. So, I have a new learning curve to go on. Having washed a few locks of fleece is somewhat different to this type of quantity, but I have some notes and I will do some more research. A fine day on the patio seems like a good starting point. I did learn from the tv last night that any remaining less spinable parts of a fleece are excellent for rhubarb – Mandy mentioned this too as being generally good for homegrown fruit etc.

So what kept me away from Doris’ fleece? Well, I have submitted two (yes, two!) designs to a magazine I haven’t worked with before (deadline is next week, but, as you know, I don’t like to get too close to deadlines). Fingers crossed!

Also, I have finished my latest shawl design which I showed you last week and it’s going to be published in the next couple of weeks. It also now has a name – Angel of the North. See if you can tell why:

Finally, the MKAL I have been working on in conjunction with Yarn O’clock begins in 2 weeks!! It is in 7 parts, beginning on July 2nd and each part will be released weekly on Fridays. Because we like to keep you guessing, we’re not even saying what item the mystery knit will become, but you do need to know that for this one we are using Riverknits Chimera and 50g of Nene, both British Bluefaced Leicester 4ply and hand dyed in Northamptonshire (or 50g each of a multicoloured 4ply with a contrasting solid/semisolid one). Yarn kits are available for £25 from Yarn O’clock or you can buy the pattern on its own for £5.00 from me. The needles you will need are 4.5mm (60cm circular or 30cm straight).

An image of a simplified vortex in shades of blue with the Yarn O'clock logo in the bottom left corner and "Into the Vortex, MKAL by Kath Andrews" in the top right. This is the image placeholder for the pattern while the MKAL is running.

Tea and Toast

Well, this week has seen me doing a lot of knitting and there’s so much of it that I can’t show you! The next MKAL with Yarn O’clock is developing well and I’ve been working on a swatch for a new submission (which I’m tentatively quite excited about).

I can, however, show you the finished tea cosy! It’s a little snug getting it on and off our teapot, but that does at least mean that it doesn’t flop about when pouring and it does a really good job of keeping the pot warm. I’ve had some tea cosies in the past that you end up pouring the tea *through* which is annoying – they’re not designed to be tea-strainers! The Cartref Yarn is good and sturdy and the double layer of yarn is highly insulating. I may need to reinforce further around the steeked edges (to stop the cut ends wiggling free) as it’s going to be pulled around quite a bit by the spout and handle, but that will be easy enough.

A bright blue Fair Isle tea cosy with dark blue and cream pattern sits on a red teapot on a bamboo kitchen worktop.

There has also been pleasing progress with the border of my new shawl design, using Queensland Yarn’s Llama Lace which is imported by Knitting Fever. Despite the name, this yarn is actually a 4-ply weight as it is 420 yards (384m) per 100g, but it is 100% llama. The shawl doesn’t have a name yet, but it will soon.

The image below shows how well the blocking holds up. The right hand side of the image has been soaked, pinned out and left to dry. This opens up the lace and shows the pattern to its best advantage. The left hand side of the image hasn’t been blocked yet and is more bunched up and almost corrugated. As I mentioned last week, I’m quite impressed by how well the blocked lace (on the right) has coped with being squashed into a small project bag and carted across the country. It’s not perfectly flat still, but it hasn’t been treated with any special care and shows the shawl will work well as a garment in the real world.

A copper coloured garter stitch shawl with a silvery deep edging lies on a pale carpet. Part of the edging has been blocked and lies flat, the rest is bunched up.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber you’ll already know there’s a 20% discount code in this month’s newsletter on the four other knitting designs I have using yarns from the Knitting Fever stable. It can be used multiple times and lasts until the end of June. Of course, you can make the patterns in any brand of yarn you wish, but it might also introduce you to some new yarns. I’ve also added a new subscriber link to my in my social media bios to make it easier for people to sign up.

I’ve also been baking again – banana bread and a sourdough loaf this weekend. There’s nothing quite like sourdough toast. I’m going to need to do some more preserving, having ordered five *bags* of pears instead of the intended five pears last week! There were so many helpful suggestions as to what to make with them on social media last week after I confessed to my lack of attention when ordering the shopping online. I’m planning on pear and ginger jam and bought the sugar this afternoon. The wasps and bees are out in force at present, so I think I’ll be making this early tomorrow morning with the windows shut!

I hope you all have a good week. I’m going to have something very exciting to show you next week and I can’t wait!! Stay safe and keep knitting, Kx

We Are Family

The past few days have seen my lovely wife and I take a road trip to Kent. Although it had been 8 months since I had seen my mum, it was 9 months for her and 17 since I’d been there! It was glorious weather and we made the most of it, taking a walk to the sea front. Fortunately my sister-in-law (the tall one!) knows the town so well she was able to help us avoid the crowds for most of our walk.

Packing to go away as a knitter has two elements. First of all there are the things that everyone needs to take; clothes, toiletries etc. Then there is the matter of which knitting projects to take. Always in the plural as you want to have choice. I took five. And yes, I did work on all of them!

First of all there was the Nordic Tea Cosy by Zoe Carter (@pinsandneedlesuk). The pattern was part of the Nordic themed Knit-Tea Retreat that I attended via the wonders of the internet in February. I had done quite a bit of this already, so it didn’t take long to finish and steek. Now it just needs to be blocked. The Cartref Yarn is so good – I’d never used it before and I did treat myself to a couple of other colours so there is more to come with this yarn. I love how at this angle the pattern looks a little like a grumpy alien!

A stranded tea-cosy in teal, dark blue and natural cream is held up with my thumb emerging from the stetted hole for the teapot handle. The angle of the Nordic stranded knitting pattern gives the impression of a grumpy face.

Then there was the obligatory sock knitting – excellent for car journeys as, with a ‘vanilla’ sock like this one, after the ribbing you get a big chunk where you are just knitting every round with nothing more taxing to pay attention to than keeping track of how many rounds you’ve done. This was another yarn I bought during the Knit-Tea Retreat – RiverKnits Nene 4-ply in “Starry Night” and the yarn is really living up to its name. I didn’t get a whole lot done of this sock as this is for said lovely wife and she does prefer her socks knit to a tight gauge. These are on 2mm needles. The section you can see here contains more than 4000 stitches!

The beginnings of a multi-coloured plain knit sock with a deep ribbed cuff in blues, silvers and flecks of yellow lies next to the hand wound ball of yarn. They lie on top of a garter stitch shawl and its lace edging. There are 20 rounds of ribbing and 30 rounds of plain knitting, with 80 stitches on the 2mm needles.

I did a couple more ‘hexiflats’ using up old ends of 4-ply. I think the blue is CoopKnits Socks Yeah! and the green is Alice Starmore‘s Hebridean 2-ply.

Two hexiflats lie on a garter stitch shawl. The left one is dark green with pink yarn finishing the last few rounds and it is overlapped by a blue one on the right. Circular sock needles are lying on the blue 'hexiflat'.

The border for my new shawl design in Llama Lace from Knitting Fever is coming on well and the corner has been rounded which is always a good point to get to. The first seven repeats have stayed flat since being blocked (and rolled up and rammed in a project bag), so I have high expectations for how the whole shawl will look once completed.

A copper garter stitch shawl is laid out on a pale carpet. The silver-blue deep lace edging is half completed. Other knitting projects sit on the garter stitch.

The final project I was working on I can’t show you as it is the next MKAL with Yarn O’clock. Believe me, though, it uses some truly great yarn and will be lots of fun to knit.

A tiny bit of pale multi-coloured knitting peeps out of a denim project bag.

My family (both my mum and my family-by-marriage) really support my knitting and I value the fact they don’t mind me knitting away while I’m with them. I’m lucky that they understand knitters can hold conversations and be just as much a part of what’s going on even when we have needles in our hands.

It’s been so good to reconnect with people recently. The English ‘Rule of 6’ for being indoors was a particular bonus as that hasn’t come into force yet in Wales.

Now that we are back home we’ve started tackling the garden in earnest and have begun the annual battle with the ground elder. I’m hoping the weather holds so we can get our garden looking as neat as my in-laws’.

What are you up to this week? Whatever it is, stay safe and keep knitting or doing whatever makes you happy. Kx

Any Colour You Like

How can a week have gone so quickly? It was wonderful to see my mum again last week (and to achieve the journey). I am very glad to report that she approves of both the marmalade (possibly my best yet!) and the sourdough bread, though the crusts were a little too crusty once toasted. I, of course, came back with some freshly cut asparagus, plants and some other lovely things too.

The yarn Mum chose to keep was the first skein I ever spun on my wheel. I was a bit surprised as it’s not the most evenly spun yarn by any means, but it is soft and colourful.

A multicoloured marled skein of handspun yarn of varying thicknesses lies on a wooden sideboard.

While I was with her I swatched with the yarn so I could write a pattern for her to use it with. I cheated a bit as I didn’t block it, but it’s garter stitch, not anything fancy. I mainly needed to find out what size needles would work best to create a fabric soft enough to go around Mum’s neck, what size the stitches were and therefore how many stitches she would need to cast on. It was one of those moments when mathematics just works. 20 sts measured 13cm. This meant that 1cm is 1.538etc sts. The circumference required is 65cm. 65 x 1.538etc = 100 sts exactly! Tidy, beautiful and satisfying.

I also realised whilst swatching with the yarn that it was the first time *I* had knit with my own handspun yarn. I’ve had a wheel since late September/early October and I’ve spun quite a lot, but not knitted any of it! One skein has been balled up ready to go, but for some reason I haven’t got it on the needles yet. That needs to change.

A very close-up image of a cake of handspun yarn in blues, greens and golds is shown from the top.

Both my time with Mum and the travelling there and back encompassed almost all varieties of weather – sunshine, cloud, rain, hail, thunderstorms. Pretty much everything except snow. It’s amazing to think that in less than four weeks it will be midsummer’s day and I still haven’t put my winter wool dresses away. The rain over the weekend did inspire us to have a rearrange of some of the furniture in our little home, tidying up generally and making things easier to find.

The past couple of days have seen me updating and streamlining my website. So far I’ve done the Wooden Treats and Kits pages. The main pages now look a lot sleeker and should be easier to navigate. Along with the rather lovely redesign of Payhip storefronts, I like how my work is being presented. The Knitting Patterns page comes next and I know that will be a mammoth task as there are something like 43 individual patterns and three collections.

A screenshot of the Wooden Treats page of my website, showing the five different categories of items for sale.

My new rubber stamps arrived yesterday. One of them I will definitely be able to use for wood burning designs – I stamp the design on the wood and then burn over it – and it’s the perfect size for coasters and hanging hearts along with a little message. What do you think? What messages would ‘ewe’ like to see?

A wooden coaster with a cartoon image of two friendly sheep and the words "I love Ewe!" burn into it lies on a wooden table.

That’s all for today – I’m off to knit some more edging on my new shawl design. Take care, stay safe and keep knitting! Kx

We’ll Meet Again

Today I will make the longest journey I have undertaken in over 8 months. I’m driving 120 miles to visit my mum. I’ll be so glad to see her after all this time, but I don’t mind telling you that the prospect of that drive and being away from home is making me anxious. It will be worth it though.

So many new things have happened since I last saw her. Sourdough for one. I baked a loaf this morning to take down with me.

A round seeded sourdough loaf sits cooling on a wire rack. Behind it are two jars of marmalade and a jar of Marmite peanut butter.

Spinning is another. Although my lovely Ashford Joy 2 is very transportable in its carry bag, I’ll probably just take some skeins of handspun yarn to show Mum (and to keep if she feels her hands are up to knitting it). I’m only there for two days so there probably wouldn’t be time to spin anyway. Maybe next time.

A large bouncy skein of handspun yarn sits on a white windowsill. It is in serious shades of blue and light sea-green.

Remember the marmalade I made in January – unsupervised for the first time? Two jars of that will be coming with me too. The marmalade used to travel in the opposite direction, but that’s just another sign of the way the years change relationships.

13 jars of marmalade are lined up on chopping boards, cooling down. Behind theme are various kitchen items; bananas, a stand mixer and casserole dish.

My new shawl design is coming on well. I’m using Queensland Collection Llama Lace from Knitting Fever Inc which is 100% extrafine baby llama. The main body is very, very simple; just garter stitch, with a double slip stitch edging on the top. There will be a knitted on deep lace border in a contrasting colour once the main shawl is complete. Llama is a new fibre to me – there are the (very) occasional spikier fibres in it which can be pulled out easily, but overall it is incredibly soft. Knitted on 4mm needles the garter stitch is light and airy and the ‘halo’ on the yarn (the fuzzy bits) will trap the air between the stitches to add an extra layer of warmth.

A garter stitch shawl in a copper colour lies draped on the carpet. The ball band is on top, next to a silvery-blue ball of the same yarn which will be used for the lace border.

Finally, there is one more very new thing in my life. A couple of weeks ago I began ‘A Masterclass on Grading’ by The Tech Editor Hub. It’s a very well-structured course, with lots of support and feedback from the three tutors and it has a flexible scholarship scheme too which can reduce the fees by 50%, 75% or 100%. I’m learning all sorts of new tricks to use with Excel. Previously, if I used Excel at all I would treat it like a table in Word; do my calculations on a calculator and type them in! Now I’m learning more about formulae. The historical aspect of how sizing charts developed is fascinating too – initially, it was done so that military uniforms could be mass-produced in the American Civil War. Grading (working out all the different sizes for a pattern) was the one thing not included in my City & Guilds course, so I feel like this will give me more confidence and skill, especially when designing garments. I’m sure I’ll be telling Mum loads about this too – she specialised in tailoring at teacher training college when she trained to be a Domestic Science (home economics) teacher, so I’m sure she’ll have loads to contribute.

I hope you are able to catch up with someone special soon. Stay safe and keep knitting. K x

A Song of the Weather

The title of today’s post refers to a song by Flanders and Swann of which I quoted a verse in my monthly newsletter yesterday: “Farmers fear unkindly May // Frost by night and hail by day!”.

I seem to mention the weather a lot, don’t I? Now I’m working for myself from home, rather than being in a school setting all day, the weather has more of a direct impact on what I do and when. For example, I want to go for a walk today and need to buy some ingredients for dinner (vegan casserole), but every time I think about going, the rain starts again! Walking in the rain is not impossible I know, but I’d rather not get soaked carrying a bag of parsnips, cabbage and carrots for some reason.

Plans are afoot for the next MKAL with Yarn O’clock and I’m going to start swatching this afternoon. Yes, this does mean that the Grand Mystery Project is all done – it’s going in the post in the next couple of days once I’ve photographed it. Again, this is dependent on the weather…

I’ve talked about my love of swatching before – it’s great trying out a range of ideas on a small canvas and seeing what works best for the design overall. Swatching as a designer is like playing with the paint box or dressing up box – lots of fun and endless possibilities. Swatching as a knitter is different, as it tends to be knitting stocking stitch squares (known as gauge swatches), but it can help you get to know an unfamiliar yarn and how it behaves and sometimes a new stitch pattern as well.

It always amazes me that so many knitters are reluctant to knit gauge swatches, looking on them as a waste of time. The main point is to see if your personal knitting tension with your needles and your yarn matches that of the designer with their needles and their yarn, with the goal of checking that your knitted item will come out at the right size. This is rather essential for garments.

But I would say it’s so much more than that; it’s to find out whether the fabric the designer had in mind is one that works for you – I once really struggled to ‘get gauge’ with a pattern I loved the look of and tried a range of needle sizes until it matched. I was using the designer’s own yarn, so there shouldn’t have been a problem there. However, once I got the stated gauge, I hated the knitted fabric. It was like cardboard. But I had ‘got gauge’ so I carried on making the garment with those needles. Did I ever wear it? No. I ripped out the yarn in the end (this is called ‘frogging’ – because you ‘rip it, rip it’) and re-used it for something else.

Of course, what I should have done was stop at the gauge swatch point and ask myself if this was a fabric I liked the look and feel of. If not, I had choices – I could have made something else straight away (and saved myself many hours of knitting that didn’t result in a wearable item), or I could have found a needle size that gave me a fabric I did like and work out which size to make from there.

So, this afternoon, while my sourdough rests between sets of pulls and folds – I’m trying a larger quantity today, 1.5x my usual – I shall be playing with yarn and peering out of the window at the clouds to see if I can make it to the shops in time before the next downpour.

What will you be up to? Whatever it is, stay safe, Kx

Needles and Pins

Well, the Covid jab knocked me sideways for a good few days. I had the Astra Zeneca one and side effects have been varied and wide-ranging! My arm is still sore and when I went out for my first walk five days after the jab I was so wobbly we had to cut it short and come home very gently. But I’m taking comfort in the thought that this probably means my immune system is doing what it should.

My plan of knitting some hexiflats to add to my Beekeeper’s Quilt was a good idea. The queue outside the vaccination centre was very long (but at least it was dry), so I knitted whilst waiting beforehand. I’ve made a few more since then too – it’s useful to have a small project to hand when your arms and fingers are tired. Not only can you feel like you’ve actually achieved something tangible, as one hexiflat takes about 40 minutes, but also you’re not having to wrangle large quantities of fabric.

And what news of the Grand Secret Project? Well, it’s finished! It’s blocking (has had a long soak in the sink, been rolled up gently in a towel, been laid out flat on a mat and patted into shape) and I’m now just waiting for it to dry. I’m so pleased with it and can’t wait to be able to share it with you. I also worked out a really nifty way to accurately calculate the yarn quantities for all the different sizes. The pattern and associated files all need tidying up and double checking and then it’s good to go!

What will be next once the loose ends are all tied up? Well, I’m going to talk to Anne at Yarn O’clock soon about plans for the next Mystery Knit-along and I will be able to finish recording my Introduction to Lace Knitting course for Craftucation. I also have plans for a new shawl design using Knitting Fever yarn.

The wholemeal and seeded loaf was gorgeous by the way. So much so that I’ve made a second one just the same. I do want to get more rise (also called Oven Spring) into my sourdough loaves; the dough is now a good consistency when it goes in the banneton, but the loaves do tend to grow sideways rather than upwards in the oven. Some experimenting is called for, I think.

An overhead shot of a sourdough loaf scored with five lines spiralling to the centre

Having caught a crow in the act of removing and stealing the filled half coconut from the apple tree I’m keeping an even keener eye on it than before. That was the second one that had been taken; the first had moved from the tree to the lawn one day and vanished the next. I’m sure it’s the same bird that has made a few skirmishes on the replacements too – it gets a loud ‘shoo!’ which seems to do the trick at the moment. An alternative feeding solution has been ordered from C J Wildlife which should put a stop to the thefts.

A crow caught stealing, flying in front of a camellia bush with the coconut hanging from it's beak

It’s been lovely to see the range of birds that visit the garden increase since putting the feed out. There have been robins, blackbirds, pigeons and sparrows which we’ve usually had, but also blue tits, coal tits, gold finches and even a pair of thrushes! The magpie is quite keen on it too. There was a pair of coal tits yesterday on the tree, one of which was feeding the other (as a sign of being a good provider I think) and I’m hoping we’ll get visits from any offspring they have too.

That’s all from me for today. Stay safe and keep knitting, Kx

Early Bird

Last week was a first as I wrote my blog post sitting outside. Today’s first is that I’m drafting this a day early – on Monday! Normally I like to write about how things are right there and then, with the topics inspired in the moment (though you have probably noticed some regular themes).

So, why am I writing ‘early’ this week? Well, early on Tuesday morning (I wanted to write ‘tomorrow’, but then that gets confusing as I intend to post this on Tuesday morning!), I am due to have my first Covid-19 jab! I’m both excited and a bit nervous and not sure what sort of side-effects I might get – I’m keeping my fingers crossed for not much more than a sore arm – so I’m trying to clear the decks a bit.

The Grand Secret Project is coming on really well. I did the really scary part today and now it’s just the finishing touches. The pattern itself is written up to almost the same point which is great. Do you remember how I was feeling a little apprehensive about the 1st June deadline when I got my commission through? It seems like I *should* (touching wood and hoping the gods aren’t reading this) even be able to send it in early!!

There’s some sourdough having it’s ‘bulk proof’ in the kitchen right now. I’m trying seeded and wholemeal flours for the first time with sourdough – that’s the mix I tend to use with instant yeast so it will be interesting to see how it comes out. It’s going to have a sleep in the fridge overnight and be baked first thing tomorrow. Elaine Boddy‘s method is brilliant – and I especially like the fact that you can put the loaf (inside a lidded roasting pan) into a cold oven so no waiting for the oven to heat up first.

I’m trying to decide what knitting to take with me to my appointment tomorrow. My lovely wife has already been there for hers and they ask you to sit and wait for 15 minutes afterwards to make sure you’re ok. 15 minutes isn’t a lot of time, but it’s long enough to need some yarn between my fingers. My advent calendar sweater is rather large – I think I would prefer to take something small. I had to look for my 3mm crochet hook earlier today and I discovered it in a bag with my left over sock yarn that I’m using for my Beekeeper’s Quilt. The fab thing about this project is you only have a small hexagon to work on at a time and, once you’ve joined them all together, you can keep adding to it over time. I did stuff some of my hexagons initially as the project suggests, but I definitely prefer ‘hexiflats’ to ‘hexipuffs’.

Has anything been early for you lately?

Take care and keep knitting, Kx

Stepping Out

This is the first blog post I have written whilst sitting outside on the patio. We are so lucky to have outdoor space of our own and this year I am determined to make the most of it.

The birds have proved extra greedy this week – I put up a new coconut half yesterday and it’s already half gone! I’m hoping this means the birds need extra energy for flying around and feeding small ones. It’s great to see the blackbird still doesn’t know he’s supposed to be a ground feeder too – though he is a very messy eater when perched on the apple tree. There is so much birdsong around me and it’s wonderful; it almost distracts from the roofing that’s going on a few doors up!

I’ve planted some of the seeds for our veg patch – courgettes, broad beans, mange tout peas and coriander, along with some nasturtiums, which are lovely and peppery in salads. We were given some potatoes by a friend (already chitted) and these have been planted into potato sacks. Recent years have been very disappointing potato-wise when they’ve been in the ground as they’ve been riddled with crawlies when dug up. And we always manage to miss one or two which gets messy later in the year. This method should be more successful, as long as I remember to water them. There are still other seeds to sow, but not for a weeks or so yet – squash (a couple of varieties) and cucamelon which my sister-in-law had great fun with last year.

Things have been quiet sales-wise this month. I’m thinking of expanding the range of images that I burn onto coasters, hanging hearts and stitch marker pots, to include more knitting themes. Think along the “I love ewe” type of route and you won’t be far wrong. I intend to develop some prototypes over the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled! If you have any suggestions or requests do let me know 😊

My knitting commission, AKA the Secret Project, is coming on apace. There is now a jolly big spreadsheet, lots of drawings to help check calculations of different sizes and I this morning I wrote out the rest of the pattern (in rough – there are some stitch counts to fill in). I am now ready to pick up the pointy sticks and carry on with the sample, which is great.

Forced downtime from knitting the Secret Project hasn’t been all bad though as it got me back to working on the sleeves of Serenity by Joji Locatelli – that jumper I began in January! I’m on Day 22 of the advent calendar yarn, as there were three mini-skeins I chose to put aside for bed-socks, and I’ve found a 50g Triskelion Yarn Elen Sock (now discontinued, but I have a chunk of different colours in my stash) skein which seems to use the same yarn base and the colour flows on perfectly from Day 25 if/when I run out of the yarns from my Bear in Sheep’s Clothing advent calendar.

I’ve also stepped out into the world and been to the shops early this morning, before it got busy. I got most of what we needed, dropped some bags in to a charity shop that wasn’t full for donations and even saw a friend to talk to briefly! In person!! What with that and our mini trip out to Llandudno (NOT the pier – it was heaving with people, but we found a quiet corner of the West Shore to enjoy for half an hour or so), it almost feels like I’m emerging from hibernation. Must remember to spend more time outside. It’s good and the sun on the back of my head makes me happy.

Take care and, if you can, do more of what makes *you* happy, K x

What’s New Pussycat?

Following last week’s excitement of getting the Little Orme Hat pattern and The Little Orme Collection out into the world (and photographed at the Little Orme, too!), there has been a real change of activity in the past couple of days.

I’ve done lots of knitting on my garment commission and I *so* wish I could show it to you, because I am absolutely in love with it. However, you (and I) will have to wait until October before it gets revealed.

As I can’t tell you very much at all about the current main knitting project in my life, I shall have to focus on the other things I’ve been doing. I was very kindly sent a bag of Bowmont Merino fleece locks a little while ago, and over the past few days I’ve been cleaning them. Fortunately, the kind person who sent them to me also sent a couple of links to some very helpful videos (thank you, Anne M and YouTube!), so I had some idea of how to go about this. The change of colour was quite astounding, although the first dip in really hot soapy water and rinse in even more really hot water left quite a lot to be desired. So, they got dunked again, and this time came out gleaming.

Today I attempted to spin some of them – the idea being to spin the yarn as finely as possible. This was much easier said than done, even to get it to catch onto the leader yarn to get going. Eventually it did though and I got about two and a half locks spun, before frustration at the constant falling apart of the yarn finally got to me. So I took a deep breath and put that to one side for the time being.

And then to console myself I got out a plait of Polworth fibre dyed by Rachael of Cat and Sparrow. I got this at The Knit-Tea Retreat marketplace and it was said to be a great fibre type for newer spinners. I love it. As well as the fact that I’m not attempting to spin as finely as possible with this, it’s a gorgeous fibre that so far is behaving beautifully.

Do you remember me talking about the next Craftucation course I’m working on? It’s called An Introduction to Lace Knitting and goes through all the important aspects of lace knitting. You learn many of the common stitches one at a time (yarn overs and eight types of knit decreases!), before putting them together into a practice piece, as well as learning how to follow both a written lace pattern and a lace chart. You then move onto a similar but larger and slightly more challenging small blanket/throw. In this you learn about lifelines – the amazing lengths of thread that stop your knitting unravelling any further – and how to insert and make use of them. You also work a knitted on lace edging and block your finished piece. How cool is all that? All you need to know before undertaking this course is how to cast on, knit, purl and cast off. If you can follow a basic pattern already that is a bonus.

Here is the practice piece:

I’ve recorded a fair chunk of this course already, but I can’t record the next part until my skin heals a bit more. The sudden change back to very cold weather has caused my knuckles to split and that’s not a great look close up on video. I want people to be looking at what my hands are doing rather than the state they’re in!

Hopefully I’ll be able to record the next section soon, but the joy of these courses is that I’m able to create them on my own schedule. Which is the same for the people who take the courses too – no deadlines, no weekly meetings that might not work in your time-zone – you just work through the course at your own pace, in your own way, with access to the tutors and other students on your course via the individual online course forums. There are videos, downloadable and printable pdfs of notes with the video script transcribed and lots of still pictures as well as the original patterns used in the course. So, if you want to try knitting and would like a course that can work for you and around your schedule, have a look at my beginners’ courses: Knitting for Beginners 1 and Knitting for Beginners 2. These links give me a higher proportion of the course fee than if you simply go to the website so if you’d like to starting learning to knit (or know someone else who would), please do use these links!

My current audiobook, Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness (the fourth book in the All Souls Trilogy….), has given me one of those weird coincidences. Last week we watched Hamilton on Disney+ (it’s amazing what you get when you upgrade a phone these days), which I found fascinating and really enjoyable. I previously knew nothing about this period of history. Then, Time’s Convert takes me to the same time period and some of the same characters as well! It’s funny how things sometimes line up together in life like that.

It seems I had plenty to tell you about after all, despite not being able to share the Grand Secret Project!

Stay safe and warm, and keep (or start!) knitting, K x

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