Simple Joys

Last week’s blog ended with my plans for the week – make some rhubarb jam, plant out the veg seedlings and knit. I’ve achieved one and a half of those – the ‘half’ is that I have at least picked and washed the rhubarb, ready for jam-making tomorrow.

I have done lots of knitting. The single cast-on row I showed you last week is now a piece of knitting over two feet long and I’ve changed colour. The section I’m currently working on has a small pattern repeat and I’m really enjoying seeing the fabric emerge with this repeating lace design worked into it. I’ve also got all the individual stitch patterns written up and charted and the pattern as a whole is being written as I knit. I can’t show it to you yet, but you will see it once it’s published! My deadline is in just under five weeks and it will be published over the autumn/winter.

I’ve also finished a sock of my own design. It’s a textural design that will be in four sizes (I knit the largest size) and will work equally well with solid, semi-solid and multi-coloured yarns. Again, I’m not showing you any details until nearer it’s publication time (October, I think), but I can show you the photo I shared on social media last week when I noticed it was matching my clothes. I’m currently knitting the design in Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball as I figured that if it will work with such a ‘busy’ yarn, it will work with anything!

The Moebius workshop at Yarn O’clock went well on Thursday and it makes me want to design another moebius pattern! I will be doing that I’m sure, but I need to get a few other things off the knitting/designing to do list first… I don’t have any more workshops/knitting classes scheduled yet, but there will definitely be some starting in September, so keep your eyes on the “Where I’ll Be” page!

Do you remember how last week I was so pleased that I’d managed to do yarn shows on two consecutive weekends? That was followed by a single day out for me and my patterns this past Saturday. I was at the Cheshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers‘ Friendship Day in Frodsham Community Centre. It’s a lovely venue and the ladies there were very friendly, welcoming and helpful. Seeing some familiar faces among the other vendors was great too!

I even got to have a double table length, which has supported my feeling that I need to book a larger stand size for future events where possible. Here’s a comparison:

Left: Buxton 2m x 2m, Right: Wool at J13 2m x 2m

Cheshire Guild WSD 4m x approx 1.5m

What do you think? I will have a 4m x 2m space at the Pop-up Wool Show in Port Sunlight on 19th August which will be lovely. A larger stand space generally costs more as you might expect, so it’s a case of working out whether it will work economically for each event I do. I was really lucky that the Cheshire Guild only asked for 10% of takings rather than a table fee and offered me a double table space on arrival. And there was still a full bag of samples left at home!

After three events on the trot, it seems really odd that the next show isn’t for another three months. I think I might get withdrawal symptoms as I really do enjoy the buzz of a wool show. But as well as enabling me to work through my future and semi completed design plans, it will allow me to do more of the ‘house’ things I want to get done, such as making jam and planting out seedlings.

We also had one of those unexpected, and less fun, house things to deal with over the past couple of days – our toilet flush broke! We now have a completely new mechanism installed in the cistern and we’re just waiting for our neighbour (who specialises in kitchens and bathrooms and is an absolute star) to pop back later on and finish attaching the lever/flush handle to the cistern itself rather than it poke out the top and then the lid can go back on. (Because things are never entirely simple are they? The lever that came with the unit wouldn’t unscrew so we ended driving back to Wickes yesterday evening to get that bit replaced. They were very helpful!). It was such a joy to have a working toilet again last night and it will be even more of a delight to have it all back to normal and tidy as well.

What simple things have brought you joy this week? K x

Sumer is icumen in

So I did it – two yarn shows on consecutive weekends! It wasn’t planned, (Buxton had to move its dates from March), but it seems I can do it! And I really enjoyed them both in their different ways. It’s always good to talk to fellow crafters and introduce them to new constructions or techniques. Two colour brioche got the most attention this weekend (Jo March, Beth March and Meg March), closely followed by Tiffany and, no doubt influenced by the warmer weather, my summer lace-weight throw-over, What Do Points Make?

There were also lots of positive responses to the suggestion that I expand the size range for Honeybun Cardigan up to adult sizes – it’s currently for ages 1-8. So, that idea is definitely being moved up the list!

I’ve even started thinking about which other yarn/wool shows I might apply for…

This weekend I also saw some folk who I either had only previously ‘met’ online or who I haven’t seen for months, which was lovely.

There was a definite ‘festival’ vibe to the Wool @ J13 weekend at Bishton Hall. The sunny and warm weather made an appearance and so people were relaxing outside in-between passes of the marquee or workshops. We opened up a join in the side of the marquee to let some fresher air in as well.There was a fabulous singer who accompanied herself on guitar and it was so good to hear her music drifting into the marquee.

On both days I treated myself to the most amazing chickpea curry from Atia’s Kitchen / Zainz Catering, which then led my stand neighbours to go and order the same thing!

So, as I said on my social media post last night, thank you so much to everyone at Wool @ J13 who came and said hello, had a chat, took a card or bought something – you’re all super. And thanks also to the organisers and volunteers who helped unload the cars, made sure we had drinks and opportunities to go to get some lunch or have a wee throughout the weekend! 

I have to admit, though, that the past couple of days have been taken at a much more sedate pace. The groundsheet is now upside down on the patio drying out (there was a lot of moisture and humidity in the marquee) and, once the washing has dried and been brought in, I will hang up my sheets of polythene to dry out too. These were placed over my stand during the evenings/nights to protect everything, and they did the job very well, but the parts that reached the grass got quite wet.

What’s next? Well, on Thursday evening I am teaching the magic of Moebius Knitting at Yarn O’clock in Mold. Moebius knitting creates a moebius strip (or infinity loop) that has just one edge and one side whilst still being a 3D object – it’s all in the cast-on and we’ll be learning two different ways to cast on to create a true moebius during the workshop. It’s the technique I used for my Mirror Mirror Moebius and Forest Ferns Moebius cowls. There are still one or two spaces available if you want to join us! See my “Where I’ll Be” page for full details.

And on Saturday I’ll be in Frodsham for the Cheshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Friendship Day where they invite members of other guilds along as well as local fibre folk. I’m looking forward to that.

With all these events I’ve been paying more attention to the health of my iPhone battery – as I use it alongside my Zettle reader to take card payments. Did you know you can check it by going to settings/battery/battery health and charging? Mine is ‘significantly degraded’ apparently. However, there are service options listed, which include having the battery replaced! I didn’t even know that was a possibility until recently.

So, I checked it out last week and there was a place in Chester that could do it – brilliant! I made an appointment for this morning and drove over to Chester especially with anticipation in my heart about not having to recharge my phone at least once a day!

However… After I had arrived in Chester I received an email that said they would have to cancel my appointment as they didn’t have the battery in stock. Bear in mind the appointment was made 6 days ago and they themselves had sent me an email reminder yesterday! I found the shop and went in anyway to find out what they could do. The chap behind the desk told me they hadn’t got the battery available, because they only get one at a time and someone had reserved it yesterday (for this afternoon). When I pointed out that my appointment had been made a week ago – which surely should have priority over one made five days later – he said, “We don’t check future appointments at the end of the day. Maybe we should start doing that” – this bit got a “Yes, that would be a good idea!”. Also, even if they did have one, they would need my phone for 1-3 working days – no mention of which was made on booking or on the confirmation or reminder emails.

Bother (or stronger words to that effect). I’d been really pleased that I could get this done without going over to the Apple store in Liverpool, but it now looks as though that will be the only option if I want to get a new battery for my phone. I’ve deliberately not named the shop as I’m sure they’re perfectly good at most of what they do, but on this occasion it wasn’t great.

Anyway, that was the frustration of my morning. First world problems I know, but it was very irritating.

I am now going to show you something very exciting. It doesn’t look like much yet, but I have swatched and swatched and written and charted and now?

I’ve cast on. My next design is on its way into being! Those of you who know my preference for circular needles may well be wondering what’s going on. Don’t worry, I’m changing needle size now I’ve cast on – and that one *will* be a circular! The yarn is BFL 4ply from McIntosh and being Bluefaced Leicester wool it has sucked up this vibrant colour beautifully.

Take care one and all and do some stuff that makes you smile this week. I’m hoping to make some rhubarb jam, plant out the veg seedlings and knit. K x

Dros y Penwythnos

(that’s Welsh for “Over the Weekend”)!

Well, what can I say? Buxton Wool Gathering was fab! Sunday was warm and sunny with LOTS of visitors – apparently more people came that day than came over the entire weekend of the previous year. After the show closed I was able to enjoy a plant-based salted caramel ice-cream on a bench in the Pavilion Gardens which was just the thing after a busy day.

The weather on Monday took a turn as expected and it rained for much of the morning, with a few drier hours in the afternoon. It was a quieter day at the show, as is usually the case with the second day of a yarn show (that’s why I tend to visit Wonderwool on a Sunday), but everyone who was there was having a good day and was cheerful about the rain.

It was wonderful that my lovely wife was able to help me set up my stand on Saturday. We drove over in the morning and, thanks to me believing my sat-nav knew what it was doing, ending up driving across (up?) the peaks and up the Cat & Fiddle – not quite the A road I’d been expecting! However, we still got there in good time, got everything looking beautiful on the stand and went off for an explore in the rain. The cable ties for the items on the clothes rail were such a good solution as it removed the problem of things sliding onto the floor!

We had lunch at The Herb Garden, a lovely little vegetarian cafe that was friendly and welcoming with super vegan choices. Following that there was more walking, Ronnie flew above the rooftops of Buxton, we explored some of the shops and then drove up to the Premier Inn.

After settling into our room we booked a table for dinner, chilled out and dried out a little, then walked back into the town centre for dinner. Once we had walked back to the hotel we’d clocked up over 12,000 steps!

Sue had to return to Wales on Sunday and so I was on the stand by myself, but not for long, as there were so many people to chat to, both vendors and visitors.

My immediate neighbours were brilliant company over the weekend and deserve a shout-out:

Zwölf Fibres had yarn and rugs from his own sheep and was doing his first ever show. Edelweiss Fibres had gorgeous hand-dyed yarns inspired by florals and the natural beauty of Scotland. Noodle Soup Yarns are also hand dyers, specialising in punchy colour on sock weight yarn and All Wool That Ends Wool had a wide range of full and mini skeins in bright and bold hand dyed colours.

You’ll see some of their stands at the end of this video I took on Monday morning:

Buxton Wool Gathering, just before the start of Day 2

I also got to meet Pod from A Happy Crow in person (I follow them on social media), learnt how to make a Saxon Vat for indigo dyeing without extra chemicals from the fab folks at Blotz Natural Dyes and managed to grab a few good chats with the one person I knew from before this show: Tanya from The Woolly Tangle.

There were lots of other fantastic folk there as well, but my brain can only remember so much today, so please forgive me if I was chatting to you and haven’t given you a mention.

A couple of designing highlights of the weekend were: when two people came round the corner and one exclaimed “I recognise that!”, pointing to Bargello Aurora Wrap which she had just finished knitting and when someone at my stall said “I’ve got a list”, and just as I was thinking she was going to ask for the whereabouts of some the other vendors, showed me the section of the list she meant – she had gone through the patterns on the website and had a list of six patterns she wanted!

There were lots of other great moments – those are just the two that stand out most in my thoughts at present.

Sue had made dinner when I got home on Monday evening and it was so good to sit down to eat a home-prepared meal. I slept REALLY well too!

This morning I combined my notes of sales from each day and was delighted to realise I’d sold 77 patterns and 4 kits – so over 80 patterns in total. That led to some very necessary re-printing (especially as I’d sold 22 copies of Tiffany) in readiness for Wool@J13 this coming weekend! That will be a slightly smaller event in term of number of vendors (about 30 rather than 50), but there will be food vans and music and workshops happening as well, so it promises to be a lively show. The stands are in a marquee in the grounds of Bishton Hall; fingers crossed the weather improves a bit from what we’ve had today and the grass has a chance to dry out beforehand – especially for those brave souls who will be camping! Not me, I’ll be extending my range of Premier Inns visited.

I didn’t get much knitting done while I was away – though I did manage to turn the heel of a sock I’m working on during a quiet patch on Monday. I will be glad to get back to the needles for a last bit of swatching for my next design during the next few days before I pack up the car on Friday and do it all again!

Did you have a good weekend? K x

May Day!

I wish I could share a pic of my desk with you right now. It’s rather overflowing with work! However, I can’t show you, because one of the things on it is the finished child’s cardigan that no-one will see until August, and there’s also piles of pattern printouts and schematics with various measurements relating to that. On the right side of the desk is a stack of stitch dictionaries with a small heap of knitted and blocked swatches on top, ready for the next design! I’ve even started using the top of my printer as a desk extension, which probably isn’t very good for it…

Now that it’s May we finally have some warmth here. I walked to the post office earlier with sandals on! I have good news on the seedlings too – they are sprouting well. As long as they survive we should have some homegrown broad beans, dwarf French beans, mange tout, coriander, and courgettes so far. I’m having to do regular sweeps of our click-together plastic-covered greenhouse to check for slugs and snails; I just lob them into the patch of ground elder and tell them to munch on the new shoots of that instead. Pics soon!

The cardigan is done and even has its buttons sewn on (pics in July when it’s published). I have recovered from the shock I had at the weekend end when I opened the pattern file only to discover several pages were missing! Fortunately I had printed the pattern out as I was working on it. I also discovered an older version saved in the back ups on ‘Time Machine’ from two weeks ago that mysteriously had more of the pattern than the current version and I was able to recover that, which saved quite a bit of re-typing.

I can’t imagine how five pages of a Word doc vanished, unless something went very wonky when I was using my new iPad and I accidentally deleted them without even realising? Something similar happened with my Excel spreadsheet file for the same design a few weeks ago too – maybe there’s something I’m leaning on on the screen? Losing work is NOT something I want to experience on a regular basis!

This afternoon I’ve been chomping through the numbers, double checking they all work and make sense – and result in a garment of the proportions intended for all sizes! I’m really pleased with the sample. It’s made using West Yorkshire Spinners Elements DK and includes two of the new seasons’ colours.

If you’ve been following my social media over the past week or so, you’ll know that I’ve been knitting my own version of Tiffany, one of the shawls I designed for RiverKnits. It uses their Nene 4ply Shadow Rainbow minis set and the colours are so rich and saturated that you could just sit and look at the yarn for hours. However, I had a shawl to knit – with the aim of having it ready to display at Buxton Wool Gathering, which is now only 5 days away!

This morning I finished the shawl and photographed it before I went on to block it.

I videoed the blocking process. It’s quite an ‘aggressive’ block and it tends to make my blocking mats lift up at the edges. You also need to put the pins into the mats at a steep angle to stop them pinging out. You’ll see in the vid that I end up weighing the edges of the blocking mats down. The end of the video is cut off as my phone ran out of space – the video was 37 minutes long at that point! Don’t worry though – I’ve edited it and sped it up A LOT so it now takes less than 90 seconds!

Blocking Tiffany

Yes, I really do measure each point of the shawl from the cast-on tab at the centre top of the shawl. This makes sure it’s a semicircle. The finished blocking is a heck of a lot larger than when the shawl comes off the needles, and you need to leave it pinned until it is completely dry. It will pull back in by about 3.5cm on the radius once the pins are removed and I think it will look stunning at the show.

Speaking of Buxton Wool Gathering, here’s a reminder of the details. It’s being held at Buxton Pavilion Gardens, St. John’s Road, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6BE. There’s a pay and display car park and food and drink available both at the venue and in the town which is only a short stroll.

Please note that the show is on Sunday and Monday (as Saturday is the Coronation). Tickets bought in advance allow entry from 10am, tickets bought on the door allow entry from 11am.

Buxton is closely followed by Wool @J13 on May 13th and 14th!

My Moebius Knitting Workshop at Yarn O’clock on May 18th (£35, 6.30-9pm) still has a couple of places on it. If you want to understand and learn to create the unique structure of a true moebius ring and how this technique can be used for wonderful neckwear and more, this is the class for you! Learn two Moebius cast-ons and create a simple headband. Ring Anne at Yarn O’clock (01352 218082) to book a place!

I’ve also recently been invited to have a stall at the Cheshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Friendship Day the following weekend, which was a lovely surprise! If you’re a member of the guild or one of the other local guilds they invite to join them, you’ll see me there!

I think this is my busiest month yet in terms of events – everything is on my ‘where I’ll be‘ page on the website.

I’ll tell you all about how things went at Buxton next week! Til then, take care, enjoy the sunshine if you can, and do some stuff that makes you happy, K x

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

Signs of Life

I’m sitting at my desk watching the sunshine on the garden and enjoying the range of colour that has emerged over the past few weeks. The blackcurrant bush is now in full leaf and the redcurrant isn’t far behind. The daffodils are looking mightily impressive and the camellias are both absolutely covered in flowers. Even the hellebores are still looking good – though I may need to deadhead them soon to avoid the garden becoming covered with seeds!

The birds are pairing up – there’s been a very attentive wood pigeon bowing to another on the fence most days and there are two robins in the garden. They must be a pair as robins are far too territorial to allow another ‘random’ robin into their space.

I finally sowed the veg seed just over a week ago – with the weather being so variable I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to snow again! Nothing is showing yet, but I’m keeping everything crossed. It’s last year’s seed, but it should still be good for this year. If we’re lucky we’ll get some broad beans, edamame beans, French beans, cucamelon, courgettes of various sorts and mange tout. If we’re not lucky we should at least have the fruit from the fruit bushes!

I’ve started knitting my own Tiffany shawl! RiverKnits have the original version, and they have very kindly provided a Shadow Rainbow mini set of Nene 4-ply for me to knit my own. This is great as the pattern rights have now returned to me and it will be wonderful to have the shawl in person when selling the design at shows. I have a long train journey tomorrow – more on this next week! – and I’m hoping to get a good chunk of Tiffany done during the ride.

Speaking of shows, I’m looking forward to going to Wonderwool on Sunday – it’s a great day out in mid Wales and it will be lovely to say hello to some familiar faces. If you’re there and you see me, do say hi – and please tell me who you are! It is of course also the day that the new national ’emergency alert’ system is going to be tested, sending a loud sound and message to all smartphones. I’m glad we know what time it will be (3pm) as those of us who would prefer not to be in a big shed with thousands of other phones going off at once will have a chance to pop outside beforehand.

Going to yarn shows as a ‘punter’ is a very different experience from being at one as an exhibitor and I find it always gives me ideas for new ways I could display samples or patterns. I better not have too many new ideas though as Buxton Wool Gathering is only two weeks after Wonderwool and Wool@J13 is the week after Buxton!

Something new I have done recently is to sign up to You’ll notice a floating button on my website now with a pic of a coffee cup that says “Support me”. I may change the text to “buy me a cuppa” or something else. (Ironically I don’t actually drink coffee – it gives me migraines!)

I’ve done this so folk who like what I do and want to support me, but don’t currently need a knitting pattern, knitting kit or wooden treat, can now do so. I’ve had non-knitting friends buy a knitting pattern in the past as they’ve wanted to support what I do and Ko-fi seems a practical approach to this.

I’m not planning on doing ‘memberships’ as I can’t promise regular exclusive content when I’m already writing a weekly blog and doing daily social media posts across four platforms. It is only me running this business after all.

It’s appropriate that tonight is my Finishing Techniques workshop, as this morning I have been weaving in ends and seaming half of the child’s cardigan I’m designing (remember I was about to cast on the first sleeve just after last week’s post?). I still have one sleeve to weave in the ends of and seam, before I join it to the body. Then it’s just the button band to knit, and that runs all around the edge of the body. And that reminds me that I need to buy some buttons! I may take some of the cardi along with me this evening to show how much of a difference it makes when you match up the increases or decreases on each side of a seam.

When I get to this stage of a project that my brain starts turning to the next design (or two). I’ve pulled my favourite stitch dictionaries off the shelf and onto my desk, and the pages of my bullet journal are starting to be filled with sketches and charts once more as well as daily lists of things to do. Again it’s a design that I won’t be able show you for quite a few months, but I am very excited to start working with this yarn – the colours are delicious:

I’m still going with song titles where I can for blog titles – today’s is a song by Pink Floyd from the album ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’, the first ‘proper’ band I got into when I was 14. It’s quite surreal.

Take care of yourselves, I’ll be back next week! Kx

Peek At You!

I said it might be finished by this week, didn’t I? The individual pieces were all complete by the weekend, but it took until today for me to sit down and sew it all together. One of the hardest things, strangely enough, was cutting out the felt pieces and glueing them into position. That right eye (the white part) had to be stuck on four times before it decided to stay put!

If you play Pokemon Go you might appreciate Pikachu’s pose in the featured image above – for those of you who don’t, sometimes they pop up in the corner of photographs!

There’s actually enough yarn and stuffing to make at least one more, although I used all the felt supplied. I won’t be making another one yet though – a 2.5mm crochet hook can be quite hard on the hands.

Buxton Wool Gathering is just under four weeks away now! I love the new social media images that have been shared with the exhibitors by the organisers. That crown on the sheep is very jaunty and a nicely subtle nod to the yarn show now being on the Coronation weekend. The show itself is on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday – do come!

An important point to note is that the 10am opening is for folk who have bought their ticket in advance – if you want to buy a ticket at Buxton Pavilion on the day, you’ll be able to from 11am on both days.

I finished my current spinning this week. I think it’s come out at about an aran weight, which is what I was aiming for. I’ll check it soon against my yarn gauge. The colours are not ones I usually go for, but I really love how it’s turned out. ‘Faded Blooms’ is a really good name for it, don’t you think? The fibre came from FibreHut and it’s 100% Bluefaced Leicester Wool, which is brilliant to spin with.

Last week we had a lovely trip to Bodnant Garden – making use of our National Trust membership. We walked nearly all the way down to the bottom of the gardens and I felt very brave crossing the water on a set of stepping stones. I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough without the handrail there too though! The magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias were absolutely beautiful – and some of them are VAST!

The swathes of daffodils (or should that be ‘hosts’?) across the meadows were also gorgeous and very varied and it inspired me to photograph all of ours once we got back home.

This is one of my favourite new daffodils. It’s got real ‘attitude’ and is quite large too so we can see it clearly from the kitchen even though it’s at the bottom of the garden. I think it’s ‘Boscoppa‘.

The knitting is coming along well. Re-reading last week’s blog post I saw that I was just about to cast on the body of my latest design last Tuesday. Well, I’ve knitted the whole body now (some of it twice) and today I’ve written the pattern for the sleeves, so they will be started next! It’s been quite a number of years since I’ve knitted a child’s garment and I’d forgotten just how quickly they grow.

This coming Thursday (13th April) sees Issue 188 of The Knitter hit the newsstands which includes Part Four of Branwen Knit-along Shawl. Subscribers probably have their copy of the mag already! If you’re knitting this shawl, do share your progress on social media – or even by email! On social media, add the tag #KathAndrewsDesigns and I’ll be sure to see it. There’s one final part left to be published after this one. If the weather continues as it is today for much longer (cold, wet, very windy) knitters making this cosy DK shawl will be very glad of the growing shawl on their knees as they knit!

By the way, my sourdough starter is behaving a bit more reliably, but it’s still taking nearly 24 hours to not quite double in size. It needs a bit more TLC, but we’ll get there.

That’s all for today. I hope you stay warm and dry, and get to do some things that make you happy this week. K x

Reader, I frogged it.

Despite the cold mornings over the past couple of days, spring is really here. The daffodils are looking wonderful. We went a bit mad on bulbs last year (we got ours from Scamps in Cornwall) and there are 10 or so different varieties in flower at the moment, of all shades, shapes and sizes. One is so frilly and multi-layered, it almost doesn’t look like a daffodil at all!

The rhubarb is coming up a treat too, and I think I will be making rhubarb and ginger jam again very soon. I last made it on 6th April 2021 – and I noted on the jam labels that it had been snowing that day. Hopefully we won’t get any more snow this year – last month’s was quite enough for a while.

I’m managing to gradually wake my sourdough starter (Audrey 2) up, though she is still very sluggish. It’s taking about 24 hours for it to nearly double in size and it should be a lot quicker than that. I think it is time to consult one of my “Sourdough Whisperer” books by Elaine Boddy. She is an absolute whizz with sourdough, has a very no-nonsense approach, and has advice on almost any possible scenario from getting a happy active starter, to trouble-shooting loaves that haven’t turned out as expected.

On the yarn-based side of things I’ve been quite busy as ever. The adult cardigan has been delivered to its destination and the pattern emailed. No pics allowed yet – it’ll be published in July. The child’s cardigan (next commission) has a healthy looking spreadsheet and I cast that one on last night. Again, no pics – that one will be published in August.

In a couple of weeks I will be giving a workshop on Finishing Techniques. This is the one workshop that involves a lot of knitting prep, as I like to give the knitters the blocked swatches they will be working with. The first time I ran this workshop knitters were asked to bring their own blocked swatches and they were…quite varied. Some people did not know how to block, so hadn’t. That’s fair enough – that’s all part of finishing. It is far easier to seam something once it’s been blocked (as long as it’s done properly!).

So, now knitters are given two swatches and then the one remaining swatch that hasn’t been blocked is given a wet block there and then to show them how easy it is – and what to avoid doing. They will have squares of two colours, pick up stitches along one of them (in a third colour) to knit a shaped flap with a buttonhole, and then seam the two squares together to make a small purse. There are a lot of skills involved in this – picking up stitches, directional decreases (choosing and positioning them well), different types of buttonholes, working mattress stitch seams down the side of a knitted piece and on a cast-on edge, weaving in yarn ends. And how to block.

There are a couple of places left on this workshop (18th April, 6.30-9pm, £35 at Yarn O’clock in Mold), and if you’d like to brush up on your finishing techniques contact Anne at the shop (01352 218082) to book a place.

Pikachu – the crochet kit I bought after Christmas – is coming on well. He has a body/head, two stripes and a double thickness tail. I’ll be making the feet later today, which just leaves the ears and arms. You never know – it might even be complete by next week!

The first sleeve of my Umbriel sweater was sailing along. Until today when I tried it on. You may remember I said that I’d picked up extra stitches than stated in the pattern as I need generously sized sleeves. It turns out I’d overdone it. As I was working the short rows there were a couple of points on around the armhole where it was looking a bit ‘pleated’, but I thought it would be ok once on and my arm would smooth the fabric out. Once I transferred the stitches to a long needle so I could try it on I realised just how unlikely that would be!

So, dear reader, I frogged the sleeve worked so far (‘frog’ as in ‘rip it, rip it’) and I’m back to square one. The moral of this tale is to listen to nagging doubts – it won’t always block out – and try on as you go when you can. I’m so glad I hadn’t completed the first sleeve before trying it on. Frogging your knitting is almost as much an act of faith as knitting it in the first place. You’re saying ‘I can do this differently, better’. Also, although some people will look at you pulling out what to them look like several evenings worth of perfectly good knitted stitches, if you know that you won’t wear it as it is, there’s no point in leaving it as it is. It’s quite liberating actually.

Good points I noted when I tried it on: the sweater does have a wonderfully soft and warm fabric, I was right to shorten the length as much as I did, and the body fits beautifully – even over a t-shirt and woollen dress.

This is the armhole after the sleeve was frogged. Ready to go again!

I’ve got my ticket for Wonderwool Wales (which is less than three weeks away now!) and then before you know it I’ll be exhibiting at Buxton Wool Gathering (May 7-8) and Wool @J13 (May 13-14). Full details and links for how to buy tickets for these are on the “Where I’ll Be” page and I’ll be writing more about upcoming shows in the next week or two.

I hope you have a good week, and are able to do some stuff you enjoy. Take care one and all, K x

Time Flies

Can you believe that it’s already six months since Tiffany and Agnes were launched into the world at Yarndale? It’s really flown by. That means that I will be adding the patterns to my usual platforms (my website, Payhip, Ravelry and Lovecrafts) on Friday 31st March. RiverKnits are still selling kits (yarn and printed pattern) and I will include a direct link to those where I can for people who want a kit rather than the digital pattern. I will also have printed copies with me at future yarn shows! Yay!

I have to admit to a particular fondness for Tiffany (shown in the Shadow Rainbow Set of Nene 4ply minis), but Agnes also has great deal of charm (shown in two colours of Aysgarth yarn) and the pattern includes two size options. They will soon be joined by Petulia – the third in my collection of shawls named after the younger witches in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – and they all use RiverKnits yarn.

Keep an eye out for social media posts towards the end of the week letting people know that the patterns are available from me!

I’ve finished the cardigan that I can’t show you – it’s all sewn up and all the ends are woven in! It looks really smart and I will be making one in my own size as well. I have checked and double-checked the pattern against the publication’s house style and the wonderful tech editor has been very helpful with my queries.

All I have left to do now is: a final check on all the numbers (particularly that they’ve been transferred correctly from the spreadsheet to the word doc); double check the chart files; finish the schematic; and calculate the yarn quantities for all the different sizes. That last one ends up sounding like one of those maths questions where the question setters try to put things in a real world context – except this one already actually is – and on a big scale: “If a UK size 8-10 cardigan takes 368g of DK yarn, how much will a UK size 4-6/ 12-14/ 16-18/ 20-22/ 24-26/ 28-30/ 32-34/ 36-38/ 40-42 take?” That will be tomorrow’s job!

Also tomorrow, I will be posting off the yarn I sold on eBay. One person bought both colours – they got a very good deal and I recouped some of the money laid out on yarn I won’t be using. So, thumbs up for everyone!

I promised to tell you how I got on with my new ChiaoGoo needles. I was using the two shortest tips (2-inch long and also the thinnest at 2mm) with what I thought was the shortest cable (I thought it was 5-inch long, but it was actually 6). I was finding it quite hard to make sustained progress, although it was much better once I’d finished the ribbing and there was *something* to hold on to. I think this is also because I have been using 4mm and 3.75mm needles a lot recently as well as the shortness of the tips.

In an attempt to make things easier on my hands, I tried knitting continental style (carrying the yarn in my left hand rather than my right) which helped a little, but not enormously. Continental knitting is a very rusty technique for me even with regular sizes needles, but I do think that it will be a good knitting style for small circumference knitting if I can persevere with it and improve.

My final tweak has made the most difference. I now have a 3-inch long tip for my right hand and a 2-inch long tip for my left, joined by what actually IS the 5-inch cable. My hand next to the needle tips in the pic below gives a sense of scale. As the previous cable I was using was the 6-inch one, the overall circumference is the same, but there’s significantly more needle to hold on to with my right hand now and I feel much more in control! Fingers crossed for further progress during the week.

I began the crochet Pikachu last week as well. This was partly due to my frustration at not being able to show most of my current knitting to you or on social media. I wanted to be doing something I could share! I’ve done a few more rounds since taking these pics and I’m getting better at keeping track of stitch counts – thanks to the bulb pin to mark the last stitch of the round. The yarn is a thin 4ply cotton and the hook is 2.5mm which gives a nice firm fabric – ideal for stuffing!

That’s all I’ve really got to tell you about this week. Apart from the fact that I’ve been trying to wake my sourdough starter up. Audrey2 has been having a long snooze in the fridge and currently seems disinclined to wake from her slumbers, despite two feeds. I will keep going with her though – she’s always come through for me in the past!

Take care folks, stay safe and cosy and do something that makes you happy this week. Kx

Spring is Here

I’m so glad I took photos of the snow last week as it’s quite hard to believe how much the weather has changed in just a few days! More daffodils have started to bend their necks and open their flowers and there has even been warmth in the air, which the bees have been enjoying as well.

The dentist was able to sort me out last week too – such a relief and they had this magic blue light that set the filling instantly. No injection and no numbness either. Amazing! All the same, I’m hoping not to go back until September!

The cardigan is coming on a treat. I still can’t show you it, but I’m partway through the second sleeve and then I just need to do the border that goes up the edge of one side of the front, round the back of the neck and down the other side.

Knitting this sample has really got me thinking about the difference in knitting for different sizes. The sample is a size 10. I’m not. (No, really? What a surprise!) It’s been so quick to knit the sections of this garment and has used far less yarn than making the garment in my own size would have done. The volume of yarn required also affects the cost (and viability) of making the garment for a knitter. If a ‘big and beautiful’ (as Maggie Righetti gorgeously describes us in her brilliant book “Sweater Design in Plain English“) knitter wants to make a garment, it’s a much bigger (pun intended) investment than for someone working at the other end of the sizing table. The design therefore needs to be appealing, enjoyable to knit, flattering and to FIT properly. This cardigan includes 10 sizes – but these cover TWENTY dress sizes, to fit busts from 28-66” and I’m making very good use of what I learnt during the “A Masterclass on Grading” course to ensure that the garment works properly at each size. Grading truly is a cross between a science and an art.

Anyway, on to things I CAN show you!

I’ve been spinning again. This is the second braid of this luscious fibre, in a colourway called “Faded Blooms” from Fibrehut. The first is all spun up into singles and once this one is done I shall ply the two together. I’m really enjoying creating something a bit more substantial – although I do have to remind myself every now and then not to allow the fibre to draft too finely!

I’ve also been putting some yarn on eBay. I know, it sounds like selling your children, doesn’t it?

There’s been quite a bit of interest already, including some very cheeky offers, but the bidding has begun which is very encouraging with another 5 days left to run on the listings. This very lovely yarn is discontinued and has been for a long time. That means I can’t design with it and the one pattern I have used it for (and why I bought more, in two colours) is one of mine that has not been published. You can tell from the pics that it was made a while ago, while I was studying for my City and Guilds in Hand Knit Textiles (so, about 10 or 11 years ago!). It was one of my assessment pieces. I loved the sweater and I still love the design, but I’ll need to rework it in a different yarn if I want to publish it.

I’d like to publish it, but it will be quite an undertaking. The original single size, designed specifically to fit me, had some quite complex shaping in the bust (dart increases AND short rows) and I’d need to think very carefully about how to handle that in a multi-size pattern. I think going with different shaping options will probably be what I end up doing – I might have that as a goal to complete by the end of next year.

We took more photos at the weekend of knitting (and some of it was airborne!). I’ll be sending my third shawl to RiverKnits in the next day or two and wanted to get some shots of it of my own so I can start to share sneak peeks in the lead up to the release (intended to be in May). Here’s a close-up of one of the pics. I love the way the Chimera yarn (the lighter, more variegated one) works with the Nene 4-ply. This photo gives you a sense of the fabric, but not of the shape!

I started using my ChiaGoo shorties knitting needles for the first time at the end of last week too – I’m beginning a new pair of socks for my lovely wife. I’ll share progress and thoughts on the needles with you next week. I think they might take a bit of getting used to.

Have a good week, stay safe and do something that makes you happy, K x

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