Thursday, 3 September 2009

Back with a bump and a spinning wheel!

We had a lovely two weeks in Norway mainly staying with our friends Kari and Peter in Uvdal and then Oslo. I had a look for some Norwegian wool but didn't really come across much. I did buy some in Uvdal but now find it's made in Italy! Not quite what I wanted to bring back but still lovely wool for felting. Shetland was a different experience. Wool and knitting is still highly valued there. I found a beautiful cobweb lace knitted shawl on the island of Yell and went to visit the lady who knitted it. A real heirloom piece to be treasured for many years to come. I am very inspired to knit one but need to get some other pieces finished first. The jumper for my husband is coming along nicely and once that's finished I'll start on socks again and get a few pairs in hand for Christmas. Back to my Shetland purchases - I didn't come back with much wool, just a couple of balls hidden away in the bottom of my rucksack. What I couldn't hide was the spinning wheel and fleece! The spinning wheel is handmade by Hamish, again on the island of Yell and the fleece is from the woolbrokers in Lerwick. One slight problem is that I can't actually spin, but hey nothing ventured, nothing gained. The fleece cost £4 and weighs just under a kilo. As long as I don't take my hours of labour into account then I could end up knitting a lovely throw or knobbly wrap with my first lot of spun wool for just £4 (plus the cost of the wheel plus the carders I've just ordered, but who's counting?). I just need to learn to work the wheel! The fleece has now been washed in my bath and dried. It looks fabulous piled into a wicker basket on the floor beside the wheel. Very evocative. I have to keep imagining it turning into wool as I sit by the fire and spin! I'm off to the Lakes this weekend, swimming! Hope the weather brightens up but then we'll be getting wet anyway. We're doing Buttermere, Crummock Water, Grasmere and Easdale Tarn. I'm going with a company called Swimtrek ( This will be my third trip with them and they are great. Really looking forward to it. Happy knitting and happy swimming!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Knitting Cakes

I really enjoyed knitting both the wedding cake for Jess and Niamh, and the cupcakes for a work awayday. I saw the Alan Dart pattern for the wedding cake a while ago and never thought I would knit it, however when I heard Jess and Niamh were getting married I thought I'd have a go and hoped they would like it. Apparently they do! It took about 8 hours knitting time and then an amazing 20 hours to put together. I took it over to Dublin in pieces and my daughter and I spent a whole Sunday constructing the creation. A real labour of love and this is a real one-off, it will be a long time before we do another. We did have a lot of fun doing it however and really enjoyed being so creative. The finished result speaks for itself. ( The cupcakes were a lot easier and nearly as much fun. I got this idea from an ice-breaker I did prior to a staff awayday. I asked everyone to say what type of cake they would like to be. I chose a cupcake because they are small, perfectly formed and you can be a different one every day. I then came across a pattern for knitting cupcakes and had the idea of knitting one for all the people on the awayday. They went down really well (I think). All I have left is the photo and a desire to knit another set. At the moment I also have a jumper for my husband on the go. I'm slightly put off by his reaction which is that he doesn't like the colour (a soft muted autumnal brown in my opinion, sludge coloured in his) however I am going to finish it as fast as I can so I can move onto other things. I have also got orders for socks for Christmas from Kirsty and Corinne so need to get on with those. They have asked for bright colours so I will see what I can find in the way of wool. I am typing this up in sunny Shetland. I am up here doing some writing for a book and updating my blog as a break. We are off to Norway for a couple of weeks soon and meeting up with Norwegian friends Kari and Peter as well as doing some walking on the Hardanger plateau. I had intended to pursue my Norwegian but time has done its usual job of running away with me and I am still limited to a very few stock phrases. I will no doubt come back newly inspired and as Kari and I both use Skype maybe I can have some Norwegian lessons before I next visit. Shetland and Norway are both knitting havens and I hope to buy some wool in both countries just to add to my stash. This may have to be done secretly as my husband has still to recover from me buying 350 50g balls of locally produced Hebridean wool. I have started knitting one Arran jacket but have a lot more to knit before I get through that part of my stash! Ok, back to work and a different kind of writing. Happy knitting everyone!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

New Projects!

I am trying to make sure I finish at least one thing before starting on something new but it's hard! Picked up the half-done crochet baby jacket last night and have started the second side - really enjoying it but still have the urge to cast on something new. Have my eye on some cute little knitted brooches - kitsch and cool. Knitting is so therapeutic and so creative. My job lacks creativity at the moment and knitting is one way of getting some back in my life. To anyone who is feeling low or stressed I would really recommend knitting as a way of getting things in proportion. It can be a real motivator and a destressor as long as you pick something that is within your capabilities and that you can finish fairly quickly. People love being given something hand knitted so it benefits everyone. If you can't knit ask someone to teach you. There are also lots of lovely tutorials on-line, or join a knitting group, you would be very welcome. Writing is my other big project and one which I just love once I get started. I've finished a couple of short stories, some flash fiction and have mapped out the ideas I have for a novel. I had a very creative day when I decided that as I was going on a novel writing course in the autumn I better have some idea of what my potential novel was going to be about. I had some vague ideas in my head and spent about half an hour getting them down on paper. I was amazed at how far my thoughts had progressed and how much of a framework I actually had. It was really useful - a bit like picking up lots of bits of knitting and sewing them all together. I'm not sure what the finished garment will look like exactly but I know the general shape now and the colour of the yarn. I'm getting on well with Scepticism Inc and hope to finish it on the way home tonight on the train so I can put some knitting in my bag for tomorrow's commute. I am so glad I don't drive in to work - I would lose so much recreational and creative time. Sorry to all the people who ever get inconvenienced by my knitting but I try to keep my needles out of your way. Here's to reading, writing and knitting.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

All knitted out ....

Feel all knitted out having completed the wedding gift (photos as soon as the happy couple have been given it). Read on the train this morning for the first time for weeks; very strange book -story is narrated by a supermarket trolley. Scepticism Inc by Bo Fowler. Echos of Ben Elton's books in style. Have finished The Book Thief and absolutely loved it. Read it slowly (unusual for me) as wanted to savour it. Didn't want to finish it as knew it couldn't end well - being set in Nazi Germany - but I got there and it was worth the sadness to have read it. Also recently read Devotion by Nell Leyshon which is one of the best things I have ever read. If I had to choose the book I wish I'd written this would be it. Such wonderful characterisation and amazing empathy with four completely different people. Another book I read really slowly as I just didn't want it to end. So back to the knitting; found some lovely patterns while browsing. Downloaded some from Alan Dart's site I never imagined I would be doing this sort of knitting but these creations are so cute! I have also found a pattern for little brooches which are also cute so will be having a go at some of those. As well as the jumper for my husband, the cardigan that my friend Viv is still waiting patiently for, the half crocheted baby coat, the nearly-finished-the-back Aran jacket .... and some other things I've started, hidden away and forgotten about. And still the wool keeps coming. I renewed my subscription to Yarn Forward and they sent me two balls of Shetland 2 ply and a pattern for a hat. Thanks Yarn Forward. Spent some time yesterday downloading photos from my camera and sorting them into folders. Felt very organised. Now I need to do something with them so they're not just sitting there. Will post some on this site as I've realised I like looking at blogs with photos on them. Happy knitting.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Things I've finished

Have had a difficult year and so not posted much (not since August!). Had a fantastic trip down to Guildford for our son's wedding. Crocheted the shrug to wear over my dress but not sure anyone took any photos on the Sunday when I wore it. Very pleased with it. Have also finished several pairs of socks, a pair of fingerless gloves for my journalist daughter who gets cold fingers typing away in her Dublin apartment. Plus a shopping bag from plarn (which is what yarn made from plastic bags is apparently called). Haven't quite got the handles right but I love the material that is created. Have lots of ideas for other uses. This weekend I have been to Dublin to see my daughter and we spent the whole of Sunday on a secret project that took 8 hours to knit and then 20 hours between us to assemble! We are both so pleased with the finished result but as it is for a wedding that is coming up soon the details and photos will have to wait. Big projects I have finished include a blanket I started several years ago - knitted in cream arran weight, each square is a different stitch with a sea/beach motif. I'm really pleased with it but it needs a border to finish it off. I have used up all the original wool so am keeping my eyes open for something suitable. In the meantime the blanket still looks good, the border will just be the final touch. I started a cardigan for my mother at Easter and finished it a couple of weeks ago. As usual with my projects I had completed 80% of it and then abandoned it for something new. However she was really looking forward to it as it is a lovely modern pattern in a soft dusky pink. So I made the effort to get it out again, found out what I still had to do and just got on and did it. And it looks really lovely on her. She is in a care home and several of the staff and residents said they would go on a waiting list! No chance, I am off on something else already, as well as the several other projects that are still on the go - including that sweater for you Viv! I'll get there one day. Will post some photos when I get them off my camera and will keep posting, and knitting.