Going Backwards

Despite what you might assume from the title of today’s post, I am not in a funk. The backwards I am going is with my knitting and for something completely different I am going to post a little video today. Please excuse the state of my hands – they are actually improving a lot!

The video is now captioned!!, and what I am showing you is the technique for knitting backwards rather than turning your work to purl. This is really useful for bobbles as you increase one stitch to five, work on those five stitches repeatedly to create three mini rows and then decrease back down to one stitch.

For some reason the focus isn’t as clear as it was in iMovie – but that may be something to do with my export settings. As this is the first video I have uploaded to my blog I am accepting that it won’t be perfect (this is quite a big deal for me in itself) and remembering that this is all a learning curve. Future ones will, I’m sure, be better!

Why didn’t I have time to caption the video earlier? Well, my sister-in-law and niece are visiting from the other end of the country and we are going to spend the next few days with them. This is exciting as it is the first time my niece has been to Wales so we get to show her some of our favourite bits! I just hope the threatening grey clouds don’t do much more than threaten!

The courgettes are gorgeous, the potatoes need to be harvested, there are raspberries to be picked and roses to deadhead. So much to do and so little time! But our MKAL continues apace and I can hardly believe that the last part will be released in three days time. When we started it felt like Into the Vortex would be going on forever, but the past seven weeks have flown by. A little update showing you two versions of Part Five:

Two lots of striped slipped stitch knitting laid on top each other. The bottom half of the image is a light neutral striped with bright yellow that changes to orange by mid-screen. The top half of the image is the same pattern in solid dark blue striped with an olive green.

That’s all I have time for right now, so I will love you and leave you.

Stay safe & keep knitting, K x

Going Out

We did it. For the first time in over 18 months we went away for the night to meet up with friends (as opposed to family) and WE ATE OUT! At a restaurant. It felt very odd to start with being out in a big room with lots of other people, but the staff all wore masks and so did we for the two metres we had to travel from the door to our table. And when we visited the loos. The food was lovely, with a good vegan menu as well as ‘regular’ ones.

One thing I had completely forgotten about eating out is how loud it is. There was music playing (quite loudly) and although we were nearest to the door and not directly near a speaker it was difficult at times to hear and be heard. So what happens? You talk louder and move nearer, both things that you’re not meant to do really in terms of minimising spread, but everyone in our little group had had negative tests recently, and fingers crossed we’re all ok still so far!

This meet up had been postponed from last summer and we hadn’t seen these friends for two years, but the lovely thing about really good friends is the ability to pick up as though that gap of time had never been.

And where did this momentous occasion take place? In Lichfield. None of us had ever been there, but it is more or less halfway from both our homes. It is a lovely little town (city). We looked around the cathedral and it is stunning. The main image on this post is part of the frontage, chronological sculptures of the kings and queens of England, each holding something that represents their reign. For example, King John (not in shot) is holding a green (copper) quill and scroll to represent the Magna Carta. Here’s most of the frontage:

The frontage of Lichfield Cathedral with a cloudy grey sky behind. The building is covered in sculptures of kings, queens, angles and saints with lots of geometric details.

While inside I failed to photograph the historically important things such as the shrine to St Chad or the Angel of Lichfield (a carving from the EIGHTH century!). Instead, I photographed things that took my eye as potential knitting inspiration. My old City & Guilds tutor would be proud of me (she was – I already put these pics on Twitter!). So, I give you the *back* of the high altar (inlaid and carved marble) and two rather beautiful floor grates which have a definite theme of diamonds and circles:

Four colours of mosaic marble form diamond hatching. In the centre of each diamond is a flower carved in relief within a circle. Each line of the diamond hatching has a different mosaic pattern and each flower is different as well.
A close up of a cast iron floor grating. Each piece is two circles wide and three high with diamonds running through the circles and decorative points like the tops of church windows all through the design.
A square cast iron floor grating with a large circle surrounded with a border of diamonds. The circle has 'spokes' spreading from the centre, with the detail near the edge of the circle taking the form almost of fleurs de lyes, similar to the tops of church windows.

Quite when I will turn these into knitting ideas I’m not sure, but there are a few possibilities kicking around in my head already.

Remember the terrible frisbee I made that was supposed to be a loaf? I tried some of the helpful suggestions from the sourdough Facebook group, reducing the water, reducing the proving time and the time in between pulls and folds and my next loaf was very much better! It tasted fabulous too.

A seeded sourdough loaf with a cross scored across the floured top sits on a metal cooling rack.

The drive to and from Lichfield enabled some further progress on the Brioche + Mystery shawl. Please note – I was the passenger!

A close up of part of a brioche knitted shawl in four colours. There are two colour brioche stripes surrounded on two sides by textural stripes, then triangle shapes in two-colour brioche, followed by garter stitch stripes in three colours with bobbles in the centre stripe.

I’m now about to start the next lot of bobbles. Knitting backwards to avoid turning your work every five stitches is an optional technique during the bobbles and I *can* do it, but my tension isn’t quite as consistent as turning it round and purling, so I’m undecided about which approach to take this time around. Thinking about it, when I’m teaching I tell other people that the only way they can improve a skill is to practise it, so I’d best take my own advice and do some knitting backwards. I’ll take some pics while I’m doing it so you can see!

There are only two more parts of Into the Vortex to be revealed and I’ll share some more of people’s progress with you next week 😊

Harvesting continues in the garden and everything seemed to grow massively over the weekend while we were away – the courgette plants that had looked so puny only a little while back gave us these beauties this morning. For reference, the shortest green courgette is nine and a half inches long.

Three large green courgettes lie on a green tablecloth with three round yellow courgettes of various sizes. In the top left corner is a woven placemat with the base of a silver candlestick just showing.

I haven’t mentioned my Craftucation courses lately, have I? I had been hoping to finish ‘An Introduction to Lace Knitting’ a few months ago, but my hands have been too dry and cracked to record anything – no-one wants to see lengthy close-ups these paws at the moment. It’s not fallen off my radar, though, and I am making great efforts to get my hands fit to be seen. Hopefully I’ll be able to return to recording in September, when it should also be cool enough to wear the same clothes as when I started recording the course! Watch this space!

I hope your week has gone well. Stay safe, do what makes you happy. K x

What you got cooking?

How is this the last blog post of July already? Time really has been flying past. This morning saw some much needed rain along with a fanfare from the thunder. The rain has also brought with it some cooler temperatures which I have been taking full advantage of.

Yesterday morning was harvesting: the rest of the gooseberries got turned into the crumble shown in the post picture. It was gorgeous and there’s some left for tonight. It goes really well with vanilla soya yoghurt.

All of the blackcurrants which were washed, picked over and frozen in two bags (I didn’t remember to photograph these) and the redcurrants… Those redcurrants have been worrying me if you remember. The wood pigeons have been eating as many as they could get their beaks on and attempting to sit on the stems of the bush despite the fact that the stems were breaking under them. I was beginning to think there wouldn’t be any left for us.

However! Once I got down into the ‘underskirts’ of the redcurrant bush there was lots of fruit still there waiting to be picked. So I picked them all.

Once all the fruit was washed and picked over, the crumble made and the blackcurrants frozen I realised there wasn’t really any space in the freezer for the redcurrants. So, I stripped them all off their little ‘strings’ and got ready to make jelly.

A jam pan half filled with very ripe redcurrants.

This is a two day process as I like to leave the bag overnight. The tea-towels and clothes pegs are to keep out any curious insects!

This morning I was stiff as a board when I got up (that’s what an hour and a half in the garden mostly bent double will do for you when you’re me), but I was keen to see how much juice there was. With this recipe you don’t know how much sugar you’ll need until this stage (and so, of course, I had bought far too much), as it’s proportional to the juice volume.

The juice and sugar boiled up nicely and the jars were washed once again in the dishwasher and then sterilised in the oven. 12 jars. I realised this was too many, but needed to put the dishwasher on before I’d measured the juice.

I got 3 1/2 jars. Not a lot, but considering I had wondered whether we would get any at all, this is good. And it’s such a beautiful colour – and smells and tastes AMAZING! I’m so glad we have homemade redcurrant jelly in the house again.

3 1/2 jars of redcurrant jelly cooling on the breadboard in front of the jam pan.

But then I had 8 sterilised jars unused and the cooking apples from mum were just starting to look past their best. What to do? Naturally, I made the chutney.

Apples, onions and malt vinegar cooking in the jam pan as the chutney begins.

Following Mum’s additional notes (she adds onion which I’d forgotten about until the apples had been simmering for 30 minutes) I cooked it and stirred and jumped out of the way when it spat at me. Thank goodness my lovely wife suggested I wear my ‘hair-dyeing top’ today. I only got a few boiling hot specks on my arms (and toe). It did indeed take ‘a while’ to become the ‘required consistency’ – well over an hour once all the ingredients were finally in, but we now have 5 jars of homemade apple chutney with onion, garlic, brown sugar, sultanas, ground ginger, mixed spice, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes. It smelt glorious (and tasted good when I tried a bit that had dropped on the side).

The deep irony of the redcurrants is that we spent six hours sorting out the garage on Saturday and I discovered that I actually have some fruit netting. All of those redcurrants could have been ours!

Not all of my kitchen endeavours have been successful this week. At the weekend I made the worst loaf of my life…

A very flat sourdough loaf cooling on the rack.

The sourdough group I’m in on Facebook gave me lots of very helpful tips to avoid this happening in the future, so I’m not giving up!

And what of the knitting news I promised you?

I have been having lots of fun with the Brioche + Mystery shawl by Suzanne Sommer and will start the bobbles this evening. I do love a clear well-written pattern and this one is a delight. I’ve always been fussy about patterns, and I’m not sure whether this has increased since I started writing my own!

Into the Vortex continues apace – we are past the half-way point now with four parts being out in the world and there are three parts left to be released. Here is what Parts One-Three look like:

Parts One-Three of Into the Vortex MKAL in dark blue Nene 4-ply and pale multicoloured Chimera both by Riverknits lying on a light gold carpet.

When I showed you the very beginnings of the two I had cast on to knit in ‘real-time’ with the MKAL I didn’t tell you about the third. I’m experimenting with something with this one, using 100g of John Arbon Knit by Numbers 4-ply in one colour and 5 (or maybe 6) mini-skeins in all the shades of another. The experiment part is that this MKAL was initially designed for only 50g of each of two 4-ply yarns. I’m trying to see if I can successfully build off the MKAL to create a bigger version, using twice as much yarn. If it works out, this bigger version will be added to the pattern, so if you’ve joined the MKAL you’ll get this version as well (it might just take a little while, so don’t expect it the week after Part Seven is released!). I’m not going to show you any pics of this one yet – you’ll have to wait!

The other piece of knitting news is to do with pattern pricing. Always a fun topic. Into the Vortex and Angel of the North have both been priced at £5. My other patterns are currently £4, with a few at £3.60. My July Newsletter let my subscribers know that my whole pattern portfolio will be going up in price at the end of August. Those currently at £4 will become £5. Those at £3.60 will become £4.20. Subscribers will get an ongoing discount code to use along with a multi-purchase code. If you have your eye on any of my patterns at the moment and you’re not already a subscriber you could buy them before the end of August, or sign up to my newsletter and get the code. Or both! Why not sign up anyway?

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That’s all from me for today, have a good week and keep knitting! K x

It’s Too Darn Hot!

I made it to my mum’s! It’s only the second time I’ve seen her since last September and I brought a homemade loaf with me which has almost been finished already. The air-con in the car was very pleasant during the journey so I didn’t notice the effects of the 29 degree heat until I arrived and got out of the car. And it carried on getting hotter. By yesterday afternoon the temperature gauge in the garage was reading over 34 degrees!!

We knew it was going to be hot while I was here, so at the weekend Mum had sensibly suggested that I didn’t made chutney in the middle of a heatwave. I’ve got the ‘store cupboard’ elements and jars at home, she is handing over the very enormous and beautiful cooking apples and garlic that she’d got in for me to take back. We both have the same preserves book:

Front cover of Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1968 (12th edition)

Mine is about 50 years younger than hers, but it’s still in print because it’s brilliant) and so she went through the recipe with me, pointing out what could easily be tweaked and adding more info to that given in the ‘method’; “Until required consistency is achieved” is a little vague for me, but Mum said that it can take ‘a while’, but it won’t reach a setting point like jam or marmalade and as long as it blobs off the spoon in the same way as you’d like it to land on your plate then it’s done.

So, instead of sweltering in the kitchen I had a potter round the garden this morning – it’s amazing. You see that Paper Bark Tree (Acer grisium) – the really tall one? She grew that from seed. I know!

A photo of my mum's garden showing the Acer grisium that she grew from seed.

I’ve also helped sort through a few bits and pieces and swapped the handspun yarn that Mum chose on my last visit for the much softer Polwarth. Although she’d really liked the changing colours of the first yarn (that WAS my first yarn off my wheel if you remember) it had too many over-spun sections to create a soft enough fabric when knitted. This one definitely has the seal of approval.

A handspun skein of Polwarth wool in shades on blue and sea-green on a white window-sill.

My own knitting that I’ve brought with me is the Brioche + Mystery by Suzanne Sommer. I’ve got all four colours in play now and I’m very much enjoying it.

A close-up photo of Brioche +Mystery in progress. Dark purple and light blue fill most of the image, with olive green and magenta stripes outside it.

My own MKAL, Into the Vortex is nearly at the halfway point (that was quick!) and Part Three spoilers will be published on Thursday. For now, here is Part Two.

Parts One and Two of Into the Vortex MKAL on a dark wooden table.

Both the yarns are by Riverknits, the first one (shown last week) is Chimera and the dark blue is Nene 4-ply. Both gorgeous yarns to work with.

The courgettes were gorgeous by the way – as was the gooseberry crumble. The blackcurrants and redcurrants will definitely be picked once I’m home – possibly a very early morning or late evening job if this heat keeps up.

Stay safe, stay hydrated and treat yourselves gently, Kx

On My Own

It’s amazing how quickly you adjust to new routines, isn’t it? Having initially found it very strange NOT to be on my own during the day, now that my lovely wife’s self-isolation is over (all negative tests too thankfully) and she is back at work today, I now feel a bit like I’m bouncing around an empty house.

Into the Vortex MKAL is still going well – Part Two is out and I love seeing people enjoying it and sharing their progress. If you’re knitting along with us remember to share your pics (with a spoiler warning ideally) on social media using the hashtags #kathandrewsdesigns & #yomkal. Here’s Part One as completed in Riverknits Chimera:

I had jab number two (Astra-Zeneca) this morning (YAY! If you haven’t had yours yet, please do as soon as you can) and, of course, I took my knitting along again. They had opened the centre up to walk-ins as well as appointments from today and the queue was enormous – right to the very end of the car park. I had enough time before reaching the door (45 minutes) to slowly knit 20 rounds on the second sock. I’m now almost at the toe, which should mean that Sue gets a new pair of socks to come home to tonight. So far, I just have a sore arm so, on the basis that the same side effects as after the first jab might creep up on me, I’m getting as much done as I can while I can!

Last week I went out to check the courgettes and promised to let you know how they are doing. There are five plants and I saw two courgettes growing well with lots of flowers on the other plants. Maybe we’ll be able to harvest some at the weekend. I had managed to rescue a pumpkin plant from the snails/slugs that had eaten all the other seedlings and get it into the ground, but that has now gone the same way as the others. Half the gooseberries were picked on Sunday and there will be crumble tonight. Yum!

The blackcurrants can be harvested soon – and there might even be a few redcurrants left by the time they ripen as long as the pigeons leave us some. There are also some broad bean plants that are rather on the bonsai side and some purple mange tout plants and a couple of tomatoes. Nothing seems to be getting very big this year – apart from the raspberry canes which are suddenly about 6-7 feet tall! And the potatoes growing in the sacks. It must be all this rain.

I’ve been spinning every day so far this month and my latest yarn is lovely, though I’m still not sure I’m getting enough twist into the ply. 200g of Blue-faced Leicester from Fibrehut in Purple Rain.

I’m not exactly doing the Tour de Fleece, but seeing other people’s posts online has certainly been encouraging. Next up will be one of the lovely braids I got from Hilltop Cloud.

This time next week I *should* be at my Mum’s, making chutney. With any luck I’ll be able to write my blog as usual from there and will share how it goes!

Stay safe, wear a mask, and keep knitting, Kx

Cabin Fever

In a rather unexpected twist, I currently have something in common with Prince William (!), in that my wife is self-isolating after being a contact of a positive Covid-19 case. So until next week that means separate rooms for sleeping, no hugs, staying 2m away from each other when we are in the same room and all the windows open – even when it’s teeming with rain outside. I’m rather keeping my fingers crossed that her PCR test comes back negative tomorrow otherwise I will have to isolate as well…

I have to say Sue is coping well with working from home at the moment, especially since the help of the lovely ICT chap linking her up to the school network. It is strange for me though. I’ve been self-employed now for nearly three years, and have been working from home since the pandemic began as all pop-up shops, craft fairs and workshops stopped. I’ve got used to being in the house on my own on weekdays and pottering around to my own (sometimes eccentric) timetable. I’m just not used to someone else being here between 7am and 6pm – even though that someone is my favourite person in the world. Does that make me a bad person? I really hope not.

Because of this spanner in the works to everyday life, I’ve also cancelled my trip this week to visit my mum as I can’t risk even the slightly chance of passing Covid to her. I was supposed to be making my first ever batch of chutney there today – the apples, garlic and onions are waiting patiently at Mum’s for when I can go down, and the vinegar, sugar, jars and other assorted items are sitting here.

One bonus to these changes of plan (apart from seeing my lovely wife for more hours than usual) is that I’ve had more time to get to grips with Excel. What on earth does *that* have to do with knitting design, you may think? Well, the rather excellent course on grading designs that I’m currently taking (have I told you about that?) is teaching me some whizzy Excel tricks. I now know how to use (some!) formulae, lock a particular cell into a formula and I’m gradually getting to grips with CONCATENATE, which is one of the fiddliest things I’ve come across, but which could prove to be one of the most useful. Geeking out over spreadsheets is not something I imagined myself doing as a knitting designer, but it’s so satisfying when it works! See that little line of “TRUE”s along the bottom? That means I’ve got what I was working out right, for each of the ten sizes.

There’s been a really lovely response to the launch of Into the Vortex. Lots of happy knitters, some sharing their progress on social media and some by message. The colour combinations are all beautiful and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they make of Part Two this Friday.

It’s stopped raining, so I think I might venture into the garden now and see how the courgettes are getting on. I’ll report back next week.

Stay safe and keep knitting, K x

It’s All About Ewe

Well, the weather this week doesn’t seem to know quite what it wants to be doing! Hot and sunny one minute, then grey and drizzly. We didn’t get any of the thunderstorms the weather forecasts kept promising us – just the muggy, headache inducing feeling that usually comes beforehand.

Currently though, it’s beautiful, and I am lucky enough to be looking out of the window at rose bushes (albeit a bit bedraggled), geraniums and foxgloves. I’m also watching the birds doing a very good job of keeping the aphids at bay. Oddly enough they still haven’t found the jar of ‘bird peanut butter’ complete with insects, even though it’s been there for quite a while now. I shall have to try a different position for the feeder.

My lovely sheep fleece is still in need of cleaning and I want a stretch of reliably warm and dry weather ideally to do that as I intend to use the patio.

The main excitement for this week is of course the launch of Into the Vortex – our Mystery Knit-along with Yarn O’clock. I was asked to design something that would use all of the available yarn (2 x 200m) and I do believe I have! This is what I had left at the end:

3m of the blue and 16m of the multi-coloured yarn. And with the best will in the world, people will knit to very slightly different tensions, which will have quite an impact with such small margins (3m being only 1.5% of the 200m length). So! For added excitement, the seventh and final part of Into the Vortex is going to be in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style, depending on how much yarn you have left. It will be really exciting to see the slightly different end results. There is still time to join in – kits (yarn and weekly pattern instalments) from Yarn O’clock or pattern only from me. All you need to supply are your time, trust and some 4.5mm needles.

Last week I promised you some pictures of the latest socks in progress. The first sock is now complete and I’m about halfway down the leg of the second sock. These photos were taken as I was completing the gusset of the first sock. I love this yarn – Nene from Riverknits in the colour way “Starry Night”. This is the same yarn base as the solid coloured yarn in the MKAL.

It’s good tv knitting at the moment as it’s just knit every round; though I do need to be careful not to drop any stitches with the needles being so thin – 2mm!!

I also experimented with something new in the week – gift labels, particularly ones for knitted gifts. I was really pleased with the results, but have since discovered that the shinier surface of the white card means that the ink will still smudge and smear even days later, which is no good and such a shame as the colours showed up so well on the white. The buff and black cards are both great though.

Last night I made the dough for a 50% wholewheat and 50% white sourdough loaf. I did wonder if it was over-proofed when I took its shower cap off this morning and it was attached to the dough. I gave it 5 hours in the fridge in its banneton after that, but I wasn’t confident in its ability to ‘rise to the occasion’. Sure enough, it’s come out more like a flying saucer than a loaf, but hopefully the loaf will still taste great. Back to doing the bulk proof in the afternoon/evening and into the fridge overnight I think…

What have ‘ewe’ been experimenting with lately? Stay safe and keep knitting, K x

Behind the Screen

The past few days have been somewhat heavy on computer work with understandably less time available for engaging in the fibre side of fibre arts.

I have finished updating the layout of my website! I am so much happier with how it looks now and each pattern and kit has its own page rather than being a major scroll-fest. This means I have created something like 60+ new pages, but they have a clear and consistent appearance (hurrah for WordPress’ reusable blocks) and it means I can add more photos to each pattern so people can see items from different angles etc.

This is what the main pattern page looks like now, with all patterns organised by type:

Once you click on one of the category images you see the individual patterns within:

And clicking on the pattern image gives you the detailed info about it:

The website update also means that when I finally take the plunge and add a shopping cart, it’s set up in a much better manner ready for that. For now, though, the buttons still take you to my Payhip store. Adding a shopping cart is one of those chicken and egg type situations. It costs more and you need to be on a higher level plan, so do you a) wait for your sales to increase to be able to justify the increased cost or b) do it anyway in the hope that people being able to buy directly from the website will in itself increase sales? Decisions, decisions.

Did you see the sneaky way I also showed you my latest pattern release just there? That’s right, Angel of the North is out and about in the world 😊 You can get the pattern from Payhip, Lovecrafts or Ravelry (the usual eye strain/vision difficulty warnings apply to ravelry – and their current homepage image is REALLY bright!) and one lovely knitter has already purchased it.

So, that just leaves the launch of Into the Vortex at the end of next week – a 7 part MKAL to keep you going through the summer. I guarantee it’s not something that you’ll be melting under while you knit if the weather is hot. You can buy the ‘pattern’ now – what you’ll get at this stage is the info about what you’ll need etc and then pattern updates will be released to you each Friday.

I have started spinning some new fibre – some beautiful BFL (Blue-face Leicester – that’s a sheep breed), dyed by Fibrehut in gorgeously subtle shades of blue/lavender. It’s called Purple Rain. Fibrehut is the company I bought my wheel from and, even though they are only a few miles away from my mum’s I haven’t yet been there in person. Because, well, Covid. I hope to go there soon though, on one of my upcoming visits to see Mum.

I have also been working on a sock for Sue – don’t worry, she will get two eventually! I’ll post pics of progress of this next week.

While I’ve been doing all this, the audiobooks that have been keeping me company have been more Terry Pratchett (Making Money, Going Postal) and Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. The latter author has me cringing with his descriptions of the (rare) female characters in comparison to the male ones, but it was interesting this morning to hear that one of the reasons women had been burnt as witches was for the ‘heretical easing of childbirth pains’. I have no idea if this is accurate or not, but it was an uncanny link to an awful lot of what I have read lately about the current lack of pain relief used for women’s medical procedures.

On that cheery note I shall leave you for today! I have a schematic to draw.

Stay safe, use sunscreen if you’re out and about, and do more of what makes you happy, K x

Mysterious Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tea and Toast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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