New Tricks

Last night’s workshop of Beginner’s Crochet was great fun. There were a couple of people there who had done some crochet years ago and some who had never even held a hook before. By the end of our two hours they had all crocheted at least two rounds and were feeling more confident with trebles and chains. Folk even asked when the next class would be, so I must have been doing something right! Many thanks to Liz for sending me the pic of her finished granny square once she got home (that’s the main pic!).

All those attending were brilliantly positive and determined, even when finding something tricky initially. As adults we can forget what it feels like to learn a completely new skill and how frustrating it can be when it doesn’t click immediately. But the satisfaction when it does is immense. It’s only relatively recently that I taught myself to crochet right-handed, having done so left-handed for decades. It really did feel like starting from scratch – and I *knew* what I was supposed to be doing with my hands! But practice and time make it feel more natural, as with any new skill.

I’m so proud of what everyone achieved. If you are a crocheter (or are simply good at seeing patterns) you might look at some of these pieces and think you spot some ‘errors’ – and that’s completely right. As with the brioche knitting workshop a few week’s ago, unless something was going to cause a major problem later on, I encouraged people to avoid undoing their work, or to try and make it ‘perfect’. Leaving in ‘errors’ helps you see how you’ve progressed and also see what happens when you do a particular thing. For example, the centre bottom image has more trebles in the chain spaces than you would do in a granny square – but it would make a great flower!

Much thanks as always has to go to Anne from Yarn O’clock for booking and organising the evening, keeping everyone supplied with drinks and biscuits and for being generally fab!

The next workshop is on closed ring cables – there are spaces! If you are near Mold and are free on 21st June 6.30-9pm, have a look at the full details on Yarn O’clock’s website.

Next week I will be able to share something very exciting with you – a new design is being published on Wednesday 15th June. We have been asked to keep ‘sneak peeks’ to a minimum before then, so newsletter subscribers and blog readers will hear about it first in the early part of the week.

Last Wednesday we had a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We’d not been there before and although we walked miles (literally) and saw lots and lots, it seems there is still a huge amount to explore, so we will be going back again! There was even gorgeous vegan cake in the cafe. Some of my favourite sculptures were the Barbara Hepworth ones – and Ronnie enjoyed them too!

And on Friday we had an early morning walk around part of the Great Orme to celebrate my lovely wife’s birthday. We walked about a third of the way round and then back again. I’ve been all the round the edge of the Orme in a car, been up to the top in a car, a cable car and on foot, but it was the furthest I’ve gone round the edge on foot (must remember the walking shoes next time to avoid a repeat of the big blisters).

It was quite a wind-swept experience, but lovely to sit on a bench with a flask of tea with a view of nothing but the sea in front and the Orme behind and to the sides of us. We also saw seals, cormorants and… a peregrine falcon!!! We wouldn’t have known what we were looking at if I hadn’t asked one of the two men who were sitting on folding chairs with cameras that looked like paparazzi ones with the huge lenses on the front (apart from the camouflage wrapping!) who seemed happy with the photos they had been getting.

Finally, you might be pleased to know that I did finish the embroidery by my Friday deadline! Sue is very pleased with it and it is currently drying on a towel before being pressed and stretched over mounting board prior to framing. The pattern is “Hint of Chocolate Limes” from Peppermint Purple. This was my first experience of blackwork embroidery and I loved it. I will be doing more.

I’ll be showing you LOTS of knitting next week! Take care and stay safe. Kx

Falling into Place

I’d wanted to make a joke about getting all your ducks in a row, but since this photo is of goslings, that doesn’t really work, does it?! These little beauties in the main pic were following in their mama goose’s wake in the pond on our town common on Sunday. Just as they are lining up neatly behind her, so things this week seem to be working out well for me so far (sshhh!!!).

Yesterday morning I was waiting for a phone call. An old college friend (who was also our best man back in 2005) had texted the day before to ask if I would be at home for a call about 9.30am. I thought it must be fairly important if he needed to ‘book’ the call in advance. By 10am I was beginning to wonder if I’d got the day wrong, or if something had come up that was preventing him ringing.

And then there was a knock on the door. I answered it, imagining it to be the postie – there have been a fair few parcel deliveries in the past week. But no. It was my friend, on our doorstep, a total surprise!! Especially when you realise that he lives in Kent and we are in North Wales! Turns out he’d been on retreat nearby and was ‘calling’ in on his way home.

It’s the sign of a good friend that, even when you haven’t seen them for years, don’t talk that often on the phone, you can pick up as though no time had passed since you last saw them. It must have been pre-Covid when we last met up. Cups of tea (coffee for him) were drunk, news and gossip and hugs were exchanged and then, less than an hour later, he was on his way. It was a truly lovely surprise – a little gift of someone else’s time.

Speaking of gifts of time, the embroidery is coming on. I had worried on Sunday that I wouldn’t be able to finish it in time for my wonderful wife’s birthday on Friday as I was going to run out of green thread, but Sewcraft Swindon came to the rescue. I ordered some yesterday morning and today, it arrived! So, there is still a good chance of it being finished. It won’t be framed, but it will be ‘done’.

A partly completed blackwork and cross stitch embroidery in 4 colours (green, black & 2 shades of brown). A geometric design with nested offset squares.

It’s proved to be so much quicker to do than the embroidery of Mum’s photo, partly because it’s working at a larger scale – each square on the chart is over two threads in each direction, not just one – which means I can more easily see what I am doing! Always useful! The main reason though is linked to this design being geometric – there are patterns that are repeated and can be memorised, so I don’t have to refer to the chart for every stitch. In fact there are whole sections now where I don’t need to look at the chart at all, just do a quick check with one of the sections I’ve already completed. The photo embroidery by its very nature is rather random in the placement of each colour (and there are 46, I think), so there is no getting away from the chart (all 16 pages of it) even for a moment.

And I do like patterns. I’m good at spotting patterns – and errors in/interruptions to repeated patterns as well. Patterns that can be repeated and memorised make knitting a joy, and they are pleasing to the eye as well.

The Wensleydale yarn (Aysgarth) from RiverKnits that I showed you last week has started to be knitted up in a new design with some delightful repeated patterns. I’m not going to show you the whole design until it is published (probably in September), but I can share little snippets with you. It’s an unusual yarn as it doesn’t have the elasticity that I associate with wool when in the skein or being knitted, but once it is part of a knitted fabric it has a wonderful softness. I love this colour too – it’s called ‘Sloe Gin’ and has a gorgeous range of purples in it! (See, I haven’t *just* been stitching this week).

A curled up piece of knitting in progress. The yarn is deep purple, on a circular needle with a couple of stitch markers visible. The rest of the ball of yarn is under the knitting. The background is a pale gold carpet.

And, when blocked, the way the pattern opens up is astounding – it’s almost like linen with added fuzziness and shine!

A close-up shot of a small blocked swatch using the purple Wensleydale yarn. It is draped over the thumb and back of my left hand. The background is a pale gold carpet.

I shall also be able to finish Mum’s socks now too. I’ve been waiting for her to measure either the length of her foot or the length of her favourite bed sock so I can be sure the new socks will fit well. 10″ for both, apparently, so on we go! These are Raggsocks from Midwinter Yarns.

A sock in progress on double pointed needles. The yarn is a marled/barberpole purple and white. Worked from the top down the leg and heel of the sock have been worked along with half the foot. The rest of the ball lies next to the sock. The background is a pale gold carpet.

There’s no date as yet for “An Introduction to Lace Knitting” Craftucation course going live. The accompanying PDF is having some formatting issues (e.g. image captions appearing on a different page from the image itself) which require the brain of a clever tech bod (thanks in advance Graeme!). Hopefully it won’t take too long.

On our second (yes, really!) walk into town today, I decided to photograph the postbox topper that’s been outside the Spar for a good couple of weeks. I’m not sure which group made it, but it looks very splendid. Even if the Jubilee isn’t your thing, it’s nice to see something cheering the place up and being left in place undamaged too!

A knitted postbox topper of a large gold and purple stuffed crown with red, white and blue knitted 'jewels'. It is attached to a green crocheted base that also has red and white knitted flowers and red, white and blue knitted bunting around the edge. The background is the corner of the Spar shop and the sign for the Post Office.

There’s been a definite purple theme to the knitting in this week’s post hasn’t there?! Not at all consciously – just one of those things.

In the meantime I have another live workshop with Yarn O’clock next week – Crochet for Beginners! Being left-handed I am most used to crocheting left-handed, but I can also do it right-handed, which is really useful. I’m looking forward to helping the students develop skills and confidence over the course of the two hour class. As the workshop is on Tuesday that means next week’s blog will be on Wednesday – and then I can tell you all about it and show you how they got on.

In the meantime, take care, make stuff and hold your favourite folk as close as you can. K x

What a Week

RiverKnits‘ Open Day on Saturday was wonderful. A gorgeously sunny day that wasn’t too hot, with friendly, welcoming people to chat to and relieve of their yarn (usually in exchange for money!).

I got to meet some lovely dyers I hadn’t encountered before, such as Larissa from Travel Knitter, from whom I got this intensely coloured sock yarn. This will become a cowl with a poem by my lovely wife that has been translated into Morse code!:

and Ishrat from Fruitful Fusion, whose colour palette was so varied. I fell for this skein of 4-ply, called ‘Spring Bloom’, which reminds me very much of the colours in our front border:

It was lovely to see Becci and Markus again and make some plans (intrigued? good! I’ll tell you more soon). I came away with these wonderful skeins of Aysgarth and something else that I’m not going to share with you yet!

I also bought some of the Open Day Show Special yarn, dyed jointly by Becci from RiverKnits and Lola from Third Vault Yarns, and called ‘Ankh-Morpork’ in reference to the covers of the Terry Pratchett Discworld books that inspired the colourway. A skein of Cormo in the darker batch for me, and a skein of Corriedale and Mohair for Anne, whose birthday it is today! (Happy Birthday Anne, glad you love it!). This is my skein:

As well as all of this yarny goodness, I treated myself to some new washi tape from Katie Green Bean. I was tempted by this at Wonderwool and seeing it again I couldn’t resist. Washi tape with hand drawn sheep! How could you resist??

So, we had a great couple of hours there and also chatted with Sharon from Dragon Hill Studio, talked to the sheep, listened to Johnny from Garthenor Organic talk about the process of transforming fibre into wool and went for a walk around the little village of Weedon Bec and along the canal towpath.

The walk was particularly important as it had taken three and a half hours to get there (traffic delays plus a much-needed service station stop added to the two and a half we had expected) and then nearly three and a half to get home (more traffic). Another time I will work out a route that bypasses the M6 completely…!

And then last night was the first of a series of three workshops in Mold, in conjunction with Anne at Yarn O’clock. We had the cafe of the Daniel Owen Centre, which is a good, well-lit space with plenty of tables that they didn’t mind us moving around to suit.

The workshop was two-colour brioche knitting and the six ladies who attended were wonderful! Despite being a bit flummoxed initially by the Italian two-colour cast-on, they all persevered with good humour and made great progress! Everyone got the main fabric sorted out, learnt how to do an increase and all tried a right-leaning decrease. We didn’t get as far as the sewn cast-off, but they have a reliable youtube link to refer to if they want to try it and several other options were given as well.

The next workshop is in two weeks at the same venue and is Beginners’ Crochet – there are still a couple of spaces on that one.

In designing news I have completed the charts for my Nevern Expansion Pack and will be knitting a couple of samples of the (six!) new squares soon. Two of them are based on this part of the Nevern Cross:

The veg patch is filling out, the embroidery I started recently (main pic) is going well (and the deadline is looking slightly more reachable) and I’ve even got the rest of my summer clothes out of the vacuum pack bag in the wardrobe!

So that’s been the week in my little world. I’ve deliberately not written about wider events as some of them are beyond words, but if you have been impacted by what’s been occurring around the world recently, I am so sorry.

Hold your loved ones close when you can and tell them you love them. Stay safe and make stuff. K x

Rounding Up

Last week I promised a round-up of the Calon Cariad shawls, didn’t I? Well, I’ve had a scour through the images posted in my Facebook group, posted on Instagram with the hashtag or sent to me and this is a good mix! I know for certain that Anne’s (top left) is finished, but I don’t have a picture of it post blocking.

Shawls knitted by: Top, L-R: Anne, Sandra, Patricia; Middle, L-R: me, me, Katrin; Bottom, L-R: Markus, Karen.

I think you’ll agree they all did a fabulous job! I know there are some other knitters out there who also made a start on their shawl and if you are one of them and have some progress to show, please send me a pic!

Speaking of progress… things are happening in the veg plot! As well as the chives flowering profusely, the broad beans are starting to make their presence felt more and I’ve planted the edamame beans and the squash and courgette plants. The rhubarb is also finally finding its feet after we split the crown and moved it, giving various parts away and the raspberries, red and blackcurrants and apple tree all look like they’re going to be quite productive this year!

It’s not a massive garden, but it’s got a lot in it (including the ground elder which I’ve chosen not to show you)!

I made some ‘same-day’ sourdough rolls yesterday – it’s a quicker process which uses more sourdough starter than the regular recipe (100g instead of 50g) and they came out of the oven a mere 13 hours after feeding Audrey2 (my starter). My lovely wife chose her two favourite ones this morning for her lunch before I’d remembered to photograph them! They are lush.

I have been doing quite a bit of knitting this week, but sadly none of it is stuff I can show you at the moment. I’ve also been doing lots of Excel spreadsheet magic, calculating (and recalculating) the sleeves for the sweater I’m working on. It makes life so much easier when you can make the formulae do the hard work for you (and when you know the ones you need), and then also round the results up/down/to a specific multiple. I’m going to cast on the sleeve for the third time later on and hope that it will be third time lucky. Fortunately, WYS Fleece DK is a very forgiving yarn!

The workshops I mentioned last week are filling up. The Two-Colour Brioche class is full (which is good as that is the first one – next week!), Beginners’ Crochet has one or two spaces left and there are spaces on the Closed Ring Cables workshop.

And on Saturday I get to see some sheep! We are going to the Riverknits Open Day which I’m really looking forward to.

I’ll tell you all about that next week – the blog post will be on Wednesday next week and I’ll tell you about the Brioche workshop then too!

Til then, take care and make time to do some of what makes you happy. K x

Cover Story

If you saw my newsletter yesterday, you will have seen that it is ten years (almost – it was June 2012) since my first pattern was published in a magazine and it made the front cover. That was Knit Now, Issue 11, with New York Nights.

On Thursday 12th May, the Issue 176 of The Knitter will hit the shops and the pattern on the front cover is one of mine!! It’s the first pattern I’ve had published in this magazine and this is something that has been a goal of mine for a little while. The styling is beautiful and it suits the model so well.

As you can imagine I’ve been very excited about this design and to finally see it yesterday when the magazine came through my door was a bit of a dream! I’ll be writing more about this and the wonderful yarn I got to knit it with from Thursday.

To celebrate, I treated myself to a pair of earrings from a local shop. Shaz’s Shabby Chic has recently moved to new, bigger premises, and it was my first time visiting the new shop yesterday. I found these gorgeous silver earrings with a Celtic knot engraved into them, made by a local jewellery maker, and I love them.

The cold has very nearly gone by the way – it was ‘just’ a cold, thank goodness, but it was still a bit grotty. I am very glad to be able to go about my day again without having to cough or blow my nose every few minutes!

I promised you a round-up of the finished Calon Cariad shawls from our KAL, and I am aware that I have not yet delivered – this is something I definitely will include next week. If you were taking part in the #CalonCariadKAL, please do send me a pic of your finished shawl (or as far as you’ve got with it) as I’d love to show them all together.

New workshops are now available to book via Anne at Yarn O’clock! Spaces are limited, so if you want to come, book a place soon.

May 24th, 6.30-9pm – Two-Colour Brioche Knitting, £35

June 7th, 7-9pm – Beginners Crochet, £30

June 7th, 7-9pm – Beginners Crochet, £30

June 21st, 6.30-9pm – Closed Ring Cables, £35

The workshops will be held in the Cafe of the Daniel Owen Centre, Mold. Full details are on the Yarn O’clock website.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Yesterday afternoon I was bemoaning the fact that I had a dentist appointment for one (maybe two) fillings this morning. One was the large molar I broke back in February, the other an upper tooth with fractures that were discovered during an X-ray at my last appointment.

I didn’t want to go to the dentist today as I was nervous. I have limited movement in my jaw so holding my mouth open for long is painful (and it was a 40 minute appointment!) – that was worrying me more than the injection and more than the fillings themselves.

And then yesterday evening I began to feel ropey. During the night and this morning I could barely swallow – my throat feels like it’s full of razorblades. I’m now sneezing very loudly and repeatedly. Bugger. It seems I have my wife’s cold. I say ‘cold’ and not Covid as we’ve both tested negative recently, though I will check again tomorrow.

So, I rang the dentist first thing and croaked that I would not be able to make my appointment. It’s been rebooked to mid-June. I promise not to wish I didn’t have to go next time!

On the positive side of things I have only one chapter (16 minutes) left to capture still pics from for my Introduction to Lace Knitting Course and I’ve been swatching for my next two in-person knitting workshops – closed ring cables and 2-colour brioche. The first isn’t for another couple of weeks, fortunately.

Three small foam playmate have knitted samples pinned out on them. There are five swatches with a variety of closed ring cables in grey Aran weight and two identical brioche swatches in maroon and silvery lilac 4-ply yarn - one on left washed and stretched a little, the other not.

I cast on Mum’s new bed socks last night – for some reason I had to do it three times as things kept going amiss. That should probably have been a sign that I wasn’t well, shouldn’t it!? I used the alternate cable cast-on that I learnt knitting a Woolly Wormhead hat as it gives a lovely smooth edge to a ribbed cast-on. I also went up a couple of needle sizes for the cast-on to ensure they stretch enough that Mum will be able to use them even when her legs are bad.

One inch of 1x1 ribbing on a top down sock on dpns in purple/white yarn. It is resting on the ball of wool on my blue dress.

So, it’s a short one from me today. Stay safe, keep well, wear a mask when you can and keep knitting! K x

Have You Any Wool?

Oh yes!

If you follow me on social media (Twitter, Instagram or Facebook), you will have seen my post yesterday explaining that this week’s blog post would be delayed a day. If you’ve been waiting and didn’t know, I’m sorry. It will be worth the wait though, promise!

On Sunday I went to Wonderwool at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells. It has long been my favourite yarn show, partly because the scale of the buildings means you can move about freely and there are plenty of areas of seating as well as a HUGE number of vendors exhibiting their wares.

It was wonderful and slightly overwhelming to be back at a real live yarn show. It’s the first one I’ve been to since Yarndale in September 2019, in the ‘before times’ and I haven’t seen this many human beings in one day since then. There were people who I’ve only communicated with online before, via Zoom or social media, that I was able to talk to face to face for the first time. I think it says something about how effective Zoom and FaceTime are that it didn’t feel as though I hadn’t ‘met’ some of these people ‘in the flesh’ before.

So, as you can see from the main image, I came back with quite a haul of goodies. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?

Fibre for spinning first!

This is a wonderful braid of British Bluefaced Leicester dyed by Sealy MacWheely. It was my first purchase of the day and the colours and softness just made me grin. That and the lovely Katie who dyed it was so great to chat to. 😊 I’m thinking a chain ply would give me a great striped yarn, but I might just do a 2-ply and go for some funky barber-pole stripes.

A braid of hand dyed fibre in sections of greens, blue & bright pink lies coiled on a pale gold carpet.

This little beauty is a Merino gradient dyed by Cassiopeia Yarns. Again, it’s utterly soft and I’m going to adore spinning it. This one is definitely going to be chain plied as I want to maintain the gorgeous gradient effect from one end to the other. Maybe superfine for a lace shawl?

A braid of hand dyed fibre in a gradient that moves from grey to violet lies coiled on a pale gold carpet.

Rachael from Cat and Sparrow sold me this wonderful braid of Polwarth. The colourway is called ‘Ar Lan y Môr’ which is Welsh for ‘Beside the Sea’ and it is also the name of a traditional Welsh folk song. It was only today that I realised this is the same colourway I bought from her before via the online version of the Knit-Tea Retreat last year, which is now a yarn that Mum is gradually knitting into a cowl! Rachael is one of the people it was hard to believe I’d never met ‘in real life’ before as we’ve chatted online quite a bit and it was super to chat face to face on Sunday.

A braid of hand dyed fibre in shades of blue & sea-green lies folded on a pale gold carpet with a label around its middle.

I’d not come across Velvet Sixpence before, but this braid told me it was definitely coming home with me! Another Polwarth (SO soft and a delight to spin), I think this one is going to become something for my lovely wife, as orange is very much her colour.

A braid of hand dyed fibre in shades of orange lies folded on a pale gold carpet with a label around its middle.

So, that was the fibre – now on to the yarn!

The first ball of yarn that came into my possession on Sunday was free!! I went up to the Simply Knitting / The Knitter stand and was offered the opportunity to spin the wheel. Whichever colour the arrow landed on indicated the basket from which I could select a ball of yarn. Cool, eh? I was delighted to find this ball of self-striping Novita yarn. It’s an aran weight 75% wool, 25% polyamide which will make either some chunky bedsocks or a hat. The yarn is actually striped with three distinct shades of blue and a green, although at first glance you might think the palest blue is white. And I had a chat with Kirstie and the ladies too!

A ball of self-striping yarn in very pale blue, very dark blue, emerald green and royal blue lies on a pale gold carpet.

Now this yarn is something special. Northampton Shear laceweight yarn from Riverknits. It was lovely to meet Becci and Markus in person and chat away. Again, I encountered them first through the Knit-Tea Retreat and then followed them on social media (that sounds a bit like stalking, doesn’t it? I promise it wasn’t!). Markus joined in with our most recent KAL – Calon Cariad – and he knit his from this very yarn. The shawl was on display as part of their stall which was very exciting to see and I wish I’d taken a photo – though you can see it if you look at the Riverknits Instagram page. Northampton Shear is a single ply yarn that is 100% Shetland wool from Braunston, Northamptonshire that is spun & hand dyed in the UK. The way the dye is picked up over the natural colours of the wool is stunning, giving a really, rich layered effect.

Two skeins of dark burgundy laceweight yarn lie on a pale gold carpet.

This skein of ‘Dark Forest’ from Mothy and the Squid was one of the later purchases of the day. I love the range of greens in the yarn and also the black that stripes through it in places. Being a Superwash Merino / nylon mix this will make long lasting socks, but it is also soft and silky enough for something close to your neck.

A skein of dark green 4-ply yarn with some black in one of the plies lies twisted on a pale gold carpet.

I’d not heard of The Crafty Bird before, but the range of colours she had were lovely. This is ‘Crisp Autumn Day’. It’s another Superwash Merino / Nylon mix, but it’s a different base from the green above. It’s also slightly thinner as 100g brings a very generous 425m.

A skein of 4-ply yarn in shades of plum, green and orange lies at an angle on a pale gold carpet.

I love Kauni yarns with the really long colour shifts, though I’ve only used their 4-ply so far. SKD Yarns sell this and it’s really quite funny to have travelled nearly 100 miles to buy a ball of yarn from people who are based less than five miles from where I live! The colours are really me. It was my cheapest wool purchase of the day, at £8.42 for 800m laceweight – an absolute bargain!

I’ve made a pair of Raggsocks from a kit from Midwinter Yarns before and they are my mum’s favourite bedsocks, guaranteed to fit no matter what her ankles are up to. So, I thought I would make another pair and this colourway is just right for her. Mr Midwinter looked very dashing in his kilt and I spoke to a lovely lady (not Estelle, but possibly her mum) who almost got me buying a sweater’s worth of their Ulligen Recycled Yarn (made from scraps of wool from the textiles industry that would otherwise go to waste) for a ‘Confetti’ sweater by Veera Valimaki. I resisted the urge (just about), but I’m sure it’s a yarn I will be using at some point – it was fab.

A plastic bag with two balls of yarn, with each of the three plies in a different colour (dark purple, lilac and white) lies on a pale gold carpet. There is a paper pattern in the bag behind the yarn and a Midwinter Yarns label on the bag.

Finally, there were some non-wool purchases – apart from the cup of tea and vegan fruit cake that were very much appreciated!

First off all, I bought a pattern from Anniken Allis and had a nice chat with her. I know I design lace shawls myself, but this is a shape I’ve neither knitted nor used myself before and it really intrigues me. The lace patterns in it are beautiful too. I think the wedge shape in the centre makes it a Faroese style shawl. Maybe I will use some of the laceweight yarn I bought on Sunday for it and make a double Wonderwool momento!

The front cover of a lace shawl pattern (Safaia by Anniken Allis) lies on a pale gold carpet. There is a picture of a cream lace shawl hanging on a brick wall and text below detailing materials, size, tension and difficulty.

As I was travelling from Wonderwool to Mum’s on Sunday afternoon, and it was her birthday on Monday, I really wanted to be able to find her a little gift from the show as part of her birthday present. These hand coiled coasters from Lilliputwight were perfect! They’re in the centre of the picture here. Unfortunately I didn’t take a separate photo of them before I left Mum’s yesterday. She is very happy with them – particularly as they go very well with her quilted placemats and the coiled rope means they have a much more ‘grabby’ surface than the glossy picture coasters she has, making them practical as well as beautiful.

A busy image with three braids of fibre, a skein of yarn and a wooden pot surrounding four dark  red hand coiled rope coasters, all on a footstool. The coasters are the focus of the image.

You couldn’t miss the amazing hand-turned pot in the picture above, could you? It’s stunning and the blue/green is from two resin inserts that were sandwiched into the wood before turning. This was a gift for Sue, my lovely wife. It was given immediate pride of place among her pen pots (which is what I thought she would use it for), though I’ve yet to show her the magic that occurs when you place a light inside the pot – it glows through the resin! The pot was from Turning Amber Woodcraft, the husband to All Wool that Ends Wool who were right at the end of Hall 2.

The same hand turned wooden pot as in the previous picture sits on a wooden bookshelf with marker pens inside. It is made of a pale wood with four vertical bands of blue/green resin inserted in the wood.

What a haul, eh? As well as talking to lots of stallholders, one of the lovely things about a show like this is striking up conversation with likeminded people when you sit down for a cup of tea. I encountered several friends during the day as well which was great – it’s always good to see some familiar faces in a crowd!

Yarn shows are also a place where you can wear your hand-knits knowing they’ll be appreciated by others for the work that has gone into it as well as the colour of the yarn or pretty shape.

A woman with blue hair and a blue dress (me) stands in front of a hedge wearing a huge hand knitted 2-colour brioche shawl in blush pink and verdigris. She is swirling it round her.

I chose to wear my Meg March shawl and got so many compliments on it. I know that knitters always want to know the pattern name of pieces they admire, so I went prepared by taking some of my Moo business cards. I’m glad I did as I ended up handing out quite a few and even sold two copies of the pattern during the day to people I’d spoken to! (Thanks Sealy MacWheely and Roy!).

It was quite a day – a real grand day out. Wearing a mask for the whole day was no problem – though I did nearly forget I was wearing it at one point when I went to sip my water – that could have been messy.

So, you can see why after that and a couple of days at Mum’s I was not really capable of writing this post when I got home yesterday evening – it’s taken two and a half hours as it is!!

The rest of today will be spent catching up with stuff, patting yarn and fibre and continuing to work on the still photos for my new online course.

Take care, stay safe and do what makes you happy, K x

Organised Chaos!

Today has been good – despite the apparent chaos of my desk!

I got an email this morning that made me VERY excited and I can’t wait to share the news with you – soon I hope!

Also, after several days pondering the front neck shaping and the armhole depth on my current sweater design I was able to spend some serious time crunching numbers and playing with the coloured pens again. It’s taken several hours comparing lots of different size charts and sweater designs of similar construction, but I now have something I’m really happy with. (There will be a saddle shoulder above this, so knitters please don’t worry if it looks a little short to you!)

Graph paper with nine sizes of curves for front neck shaping of a sweater marked out in a rainbow of colours.

It does mean there’s a knock-on effect on the numbers for the sleeves – and my spreadsheet for the sleeve increases was a thing of beauty, but there’s no reason the new and improved one can’t be too!

My secret knitting is all finished and blocked and I love it. Just the ends to weave in now – and because it’s structured with the stripes going along the length, rather than the width, that means there are only 34 ends! My latest socks had more than that!

I also got out into the garden this afternoon and FINALLY sowed the courgette, squash and broad bean seeds. The broad beans have gone straight in the ground, while the courgette and squash seeds have gone into multi-cell trays in the mini-greenhouse. I even dug its plastic cover out of the garage. The cover has to come off in autumn and winter as, living in what we still believe to be one of the windiest towns ever as we do, it does try to make the whole structure take off or blow over. And that’s with the bottom shelf weighted down with every heavy stone and brick we can find! It was good to get outside in the sunshine and do something that will hopefully bring us some food in a few months!

Speaking of the sunshine – we did get our trip to Prestatyn. In fact we went twice and had a lovely time. We had a very chilly paddle on the second visit (having been more organised and brought a towel that time), Ronnie (our Rhino) practised his gymnastics and dancing and we really enjoyed the peace and the sea air. We also discovered Rhuddlan Castle – though sadly it was closed to visitors. I also completed a lot of my hat and I am still pinching myself that I made this yarn!

And here is the top of the finished hat. That is the beauty of a 12-point right-leaning spiral as designed by Woolly Wormhead. I love how the stripes gradually get wider as the number of stitches reduces.

An overhead view of the crown of a hand knitted beret, being stretched over a dinner plate. There are stripes that appear to create concentric circles in blues, green, yellow and dark grey, ending with a circle of grey in the centre.

On Sunday I am going to Wonderwool at the Royal Welsh Showground in mid-Wales. I am both excited and a little nervous about this as I haven’t been to an event with so many people attending since ‘the before times’, but I was pleased to see the organisers saying they would appreciate it if people wore masks in the exhibition halls. The great thing about Wonderwool is that the halls are so big there is always a good sense of space – not something that can be said about all the yarn shows I’ve been to, as some are really constrained by the limits of the building. I hope to have lots to show you and tell you all about next week!

Waiting for the Phone

I should have saved last week’s blog post title (A Little Fall of Rain) for today. We were going to have a day trip to Prestatyn and have lunch on the beach. Except it’s been raining. All day. Fingers crossed for drier weather in the next few days. 🤞

Today’s title is just as fitting though (Check out Waiting for the Phone by Jeff Ronay)!

We had planned to have a seaside day yesterday, but ended up waiting for a plumber for the second day in a row. On Day 1 (Sunday) we had a leak from the pipe into the toilet, so I rang the Home Emergency line of our house insurance. Yes, it was covered if I paid a £25 excess charge, yes, they could get someone to us – he was with us and done within four hours of my first phone call. Though the number of times I had to explain on the phone that no, we didn’t have another toilet, it is our only toilet would make you laugh if it wasn’t true!

However, it seemed we had merely swapped a big leak for some new piping and a smaller, slower leak. We hoped it might just be condensation on the new copper pipe, but it wasn’t. So, on Day 2 (yesterday, Monday) I rang again at 8.45am. Same procedure (except no queries about the number of loos this time) – the contractors would ring within two hours and tell us when the engineer would be there. But… Three hours came and went and no phone call.

I rang the insurers again. Got put through to the ongoing claims line to find out what was happening only to have a phone line so distorted I could barely make out what the chap was saying. I’m pretty sure he said to hang up and he’d ring me back. Except he didn’t. So, 40 minutes later, I rang again (bear in mind I’m not a massive fan of official phone calls). This time I got Tracy, who put me on hold while SHE rang the contractors and then connected me directly to them. Brilliant – thank you Tracy! Our plumber (Ben – a different chap from the day before) arrived at 3.30 and was able to fix the problem quickly, having agreed that the new nut shouldn’t be wet and dripping water on to the floor.

In theory this was all good knitting time, and in fairness I did get quite a bit of my secret project done (10 very long rows), but being in ‘waiting mode’ for that long? It’s exhausting and for some reason it stops me from being able to settle properly to other tasks. It’s been such a relief to get up today knowing we won’t have to have an another day of waiting for the phone – or keep checking the floor for puddles (they’re all gone!).

Today I plied the sparkly yarn that I’ve been working on for a while. I did include the clump of multicoloured long curly locks that came attached to the fibre batt in one of the singles, though I’m not sure I handled them very well. Looking at Hairy Dog Crafts‘ website, who prepared and dyed the fibre, I think they must be Valais Blacknose – they certainly had a longest staple (length of fibre) I’ve yet experienced. So, I now have some ‘fluffy unicorn’ style yarn sitting on my lazy Kate – the main fibre was a mix of Merino, Corriedale, ‘glitter’ (Angellina?) and Rose Fibre. It will be really interesting to see how it looks once it’s been skeined and washed.

As it’s that time of year I made hot cross buns – a week early, but never mind. They were (and still are) delicious. There’s something about the smell of mixed spice laced dough baking as well that just makes me smile. In case you’d like to try them, this was the recipe, ‘Easy No-Knead Sourdough Hot Cross Buns’. I used all white bread flour and vegan butter (Flora Plant B+tter) in these ones.

And I finished my Good Riddance socks by Lauren Rose (Laur_oftheBlings Designs) – since I hadn’t even turned the heel of the second one when I last wrote I’m quite impressed with myself on this. The ends are still waiting to be woven in though.

These did use a goodly amount of my leftover 4-ply yarns, but I still have a huge amount remaining – a full bag of little bits, as well as several bigger part-balls in one of my yarn storage boxes. I may have to make a second pair. And make more hexiflats (I prefer not to stuff them, so I call them hexiflats rather than hexipuffs!) to continue expanding my Beekeeper’s Quilt.

The transcription of my Introduction to Lace Knitting course is nearly done. Of course, this is the stage where I’m looking at the videos at my most critical and half wishing I could re-do some of them – especially the wet-blocking. Unfortunately, once a lace item has been blocked it never returns to that pre-blocked state, so it’s possible I’d have to re-knit the whole project just to block it again… I think I need to get a more objective pair of eyes on it!

If you want to see the Nos Da baby blanket in the real world and are in the North Wales area, I am glad to say it will be taking up residence at Yarn O’clock in Mold very soon! The hedgehog will be staying at home though.

That’s all from me for today. It’s time for a cuppa and to finish off those transcriptions!

Whatever you do this week, hold your loved ones close (whether human, fur-babies or stuffed hedgehogs!) and do what makes you happy. K x

A Little Fall of Rain

This week has flown past – I can hardly believe I’m writing another blog post already!

The main image of today’s post is the Helmet hat I made for Sue from my hand spun yarn, the pattern coming from Woolly Wormhead‘s Introspection collection. I realised I hadn’t taken a photo of her wearing it since it was blocked – and this overhead shot shows the crown decreases really nicely.

Some good news – I have finished recording and editing my videos for my new Craftucation course, An Introduction to Lace Knitting. They are currently in the process of being uploaded to the website and that just leaves the final bits of transcriptions to write and the still images to capture from the videos for the pdf downloads. Hurrah!

A screenshot of the first title page for my lace knitting course. The text on the left reads "Introduction to Lace Knitting, 1.1 Welcome". On the right is a sample square of different lace stitches worked in pale blue DK yarn. The background is a wooden desk.

In a week or so I will upload one of the introductory chapters here – they are free to view before buying the course anyway, to give you a flavour of it. That’s probably better than showing you the out-takes where I end up blowing raspberries at myself for tripping over my words!

Looking back at last week’s post, I see that more knitting progress has occurred than I’d realised. The first of my Good Riddance Socks by Laur of the Blings Designs is complete and I’m just about to start the short row heel on the second one.

One complete multi-coloured hand knit sock lies on a pale gold carpet with a sock in progress on top of it. The sock in progress is being worked toe up, starting in stocking stitch with two colours held together then going to a section of 2-colour brioche. Stocking stitch returns just under the needles (dpns). The colours change randomly as each yarn runs out.

I’ve also passed the half-way mark on my ‘secret’ project, so that will be complete in the next couple of weeks which is fabulous as it gives me plenty of time before the deadline. I really wish I could show you this, but you are going to LOVE it when you do eventually get to see it – in September. The yarn was dyed especially for me to match a picture I sent the dyer. The picture relates closely to the name of the pattern. The dyer will then be making yarn kits for the pattern to coincide with publication in September!

I don’t yet have photos of everyone’s finished Calon Cariad shawls, but they are going to make a stunning collection when I do manage to bring them all together. Some people are still working on them I know. It was lovely to get feedback about including Zoom events as part of a KAL. Those who attended really appreciated them and said it gave them more of a sense that they were taking part in a group event, rather than just knitting and sharing photos of their work online. It’s something I think I will do with future KALs and MKALs – though I might need to invest in the Zoom package that stops your meeting unceremoniously ending after 40 minutes!

The embroidery of Mum has stalled a bit, although I did do a couple of hours on it yesterday for the first time in a while. I’m not sure I can see the difference yet from my previous update photo as my current colour – dark brown – is so close to the black that it’s hard to see. I have decided the next colour I choose to work will have a clear contrast with the dark brown, black and olive green there so far. I need to be able to see some progress being made. What do you think?

A book I pre-ordered back in August arrived recently. The Sourdough Whisperer by Elaine Boddy. It’s the second of her books that I’ve had and they are both brilliant. I love the tips and tricks and ways to revive and boost your starter and different things to try if your dough isn’t behaving the way you want it to. As you may remember I’ve had some spectacular failures in my baking adventures (total frisbees!) as well as successes and this book mentions the effect that being in a hard or soft water area can have. We have incredibly soft water, so I followed the suggestion to reduce the water content by 30g and it worked a treat. At first I wasn’t sure all the flour would mix in, but it did and we’ve been enjoying a cracking loaf for the past few days.

A round sourdough loaf sits on a cooling rack.

It had finally stopped raining and drizzling – there was even some sunshine! – so I interrupted my blog writing to grab the opportunity to go for a walk. Less than ten minutes out the door en route to the post office the rain began once more. Just a little fall of rain. It’s a shame we weren’t wearing our hats when we went out!

Take care, keep safe and keep knitting, Kx

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