Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Woolfest 2010

Oooh what fun we had! It was my first time at Woolfest in Cockermouth and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went with some ladies from my sewing group - 5 of us - and we had a really great day, totally indulging ourselves in all things woolly, creative and crafty. We paced ourselves - regular breaks and a packed lunch - and took our time looking at each stall and gathering hundreds of ideas and inspirations along the way.

I have to admit that I didn't take any photos of the show - because I'm a bit shy when it comes to getting my camera out - but I can tell you about come things that really caught my eye. Firstly, there was the lady who was knitting with what appeared to be broom handles! Her needles were huge! She was knitting with huge balls of strips of fabric, about an inch or two wide and making rugs! Fabulous idea. One of the girls bought 4 balls and a set of needles - enough to make a sizeable rug. Perhaps I'll get a picture when she gets going with it.

Secondly, the whole place was ablaze with stalls selling the most beautifully coloured yarns. Mostly hand-dyed, fabulous mixes of natural fibres - angora, alpaca, mohair, etc. It was very hard to know where to begin with it all - I was thinking in terms of knitting scarves and hats as xmas pressies this year, but I ended up being seduced by the wonders of knitting a lacy shawl. Oh, they were as light as a feather and just so beautiful. I don't know if my photos are going to do the colours justice - this is a lace-weight yarn that is hand-dyed and has flashes of orange, pink, rust and 100 shades inbetween.

Here I have started my first ever shawl, and first ever project with lace-weight yarn - I can tell you it's a bit like knitting with something as thin and delicate as a spider's web! Also - bizarely - and it took me ages to get my head around this - instead of starting at the V part of the triangle you are creating, i.e. the pointy bit - you actually start at the longest straight edge, but only cast on 7 stitches. Eh? And they you increase with the lacy pattern in the middle so that it pushes the edges out and when it's off the needles it will be straight. Guess we'll have to wait until it's finished to get a grip on that.
Here is a yarn - oh - it's kidsilk! It's like candyfloss (only not so sticky!). And again, the most beautiful shade of tuquoise with hints of grey.

And another shawl yarn - this time in a rich plum and this time a sock weight. Lace weight or sock weight are fine for shawls, I discovered.

And here is a DK weight in a fabulous blue - about the same colour as the boy's eyes, so I'm going to make him a tank top with it.

Skeins seemed to be the order of the day, although there were regular balls for sale too. I guess it's because people are spinning and dying their own.

Ahh - now this one is another DK weight one which I simply could not resist - look at those colours! Makes you want to dive right in there, doesn't it? We thought perhaps a long, thin scarf for this one.
And finally a few notions - the above are little felt beads - there were some fabulous examples of necklaces and bracelets around, made from felt beads, large and small.

And some interesting buttons! I also got some patterns for the shawls and some bags. So all in all, we came home loaded down, happy, exhausted and eager to get knitting!!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Keep on Knitting

So, of course you remember this - yummy pattern ...

Well things are progressing ...

... and I'm half way up the front now too.

I've shortened it quite a bit - by a good 14cm - as I want it to rest on my waist, not my hips. I'm figuring on wearing a vest/T-shirt underneath which will come down longer, if you know what I mean. Am loving the Rowan Milk Cotton too - very nice to work with and very soft and stretchy.

Now. On Saturday, our sewing group is going to Woolfest, in Cockermouth (only an hour away). (Yes, I know it's a sewing group, but many of us are knitters too). So, in preparation I was perusing the website, as you do, and one thing led to another and the next thing I knew I was having a browse through this new book -

... and with every (virtual) turn of the page, all I could thing was ... drool ...

I want one of these ...

... and one of these

... and maybe one or other of these ...

... definitely this one

.. and definitely this one too. But oh dear I thought. What if I get to Woolfest and there are no books left on the stand to buy? I mean, surely everyone is going to be heading straight for this stall and this very book? Surely it would be better to buy it now, then I can decide which pattern I could start first and then purchase the wool on Saturday? Eh? :-) Let's just say I am going prepared with a big empty bag.

Meanwhile, I have not been idle, oh no, no, no. I just had to launch another shirt into the world, for the boy. Knit. Shirt. Knit. Shirt. Knit ...

Monday, 21 June 2010

Ooh it was a lovely sunny day yesterday, although there was a stiff breeze. Pefect for flying kites on the beach though.

And perfect for wearing your new shirt that your wife has lovingly made for you!

Have to admit that I was dead chuffed with this one!

I also have to admit that I stole this label idea from the fabulous Alicia. Of course, hers was a little more intricate than mine, but you get the idea. I wish I'd put 'by' Bridget now, would have made more sense, but there you go. You live and learn, don't you?

Have just finished that unravelling project, you might remember. I unravelled a top that I knitted a couple of years ago and never, ever wore - this ...

and have now made it into this ...

Which is much better, although I think the bottom of it is a bit baggy. However, it's really comfy to wear. I suppose it might shrink a bit in the wash ... possibly ... I don't know!

Let's hope I wear this one!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Lacy Love

So this is how the lacy top is progressing. Am really loving doing this little top, although I think I will be making it slightly shorter than the pattern so that it rests on the waist, rather than the hips. Don't need any extra bulk there, thank you very much.

There is loads of stretchiness in this Rowan Milk Cotton - much more than I thought. I tend to think that cotton is a rather more rigid yarn to work with, but this has lots of 'ease'. So far - and I say this with trepidation - I haven't made one single mistake in the pattern! Must be a first. Just goes to show that even a simpleton can do lace.
Meanwhile, hubby's grandad shirt is coming along nicely too. Will show you it when it's finished. However, I had a bit of a brainwave last night - I was thinking shirts and Christmas ... you know what I mean? I have a dad, a husband and a brother who are all pretty tricky customers when it comes to Christmas presents. My only problem would be getting some really nice shirting weight cottons. When you start looking for them, they're not that easy to source. And when you do, the choice is stripes, plaids or plain. That's it. Absolutely nothing else. On the other hand, I guess a really nice light weight denim shirt is always a winner, baring in mind it will be winter when they get it. Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

I don't know if it's just me, but I find it nigh on impossible to find a knitting pattern that I like. I spend ages and ages trawling through Ravelry and Knitty.com and any other free pattern sites and yet I just can't find what I'm looking for. When you think about it, there are lots of criteria to meet: a pattern you like, in the right yarn, in a flattering shape, at the right tension. And preferably not knitted in the round (why do they keep knitting things on circular needles?).

You may remember that I bought a lot of Rowan's Milk Cotton and started to knit a cable cardigan. Well, I didn't get very far with it because it requires 100% attention and, as I tend to knit in front of the telly, I just kept getting confused and frustrated with it. So I thought right, rather than let it languish on the needles forever, I'll find another pattern. Eventually, and I mean, eventually, after all the above failed, I found myself in the local library yesterday and lo and behold, the perfect pattern!! Who knew?

This is perfect because it is knitted in cotton at a standard tension (as is the milk cotton). I have enough yarn, I like it, and I think (or hope) it will flatter my figure. Jackpot! Also, it's quite nice to knit because of the lacy pattern at the bottom and it's not knitted sideways or upside down or on those stupid circular needles (can you tell I don't like circular needles?). I guess designers feel the need to shake things up a bit by knitting things backwards, etc, but I think it's just annoying. If it ain't broke, don't fix it is my philosophy.

Meanwhile, at the house of Shirts, another one has rolled hot off the press. It only took about 3 hours on Sunday afternoon, start to finish, to run this baby up. It's exactly the same as the last (stripey) one, but I put 2 pockets on instead of 1, mainly because I accidently cut 2 out so I thought I may as well just bung it on there. Boys love pockets - very handy for stashing dinosaurs, you know.
The boy was slightly hesitant at first as he thought the material was flowery, but I managed to reassure him that it was spotty and definitely not spotty. God forbid.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Keep your Shirt on!

I am in the middle of a total shirt-making frenzy. This came about, completely out of the blue, on Wednesday night when I was gathering my bits and pieces ready for my sewing class. I intended to start my mum's jelly roll quilt but then suddenly realised that I don't have a set square thingy to cut diagonal edges with - which I needed for the quilt. Bugger. What to do? With only 10 minutes left before I had to leave, I began to mildly panic. However, the boy, sensing my dilemna, simply asked "can you make me a top?". Which sounded much more like a challenge than a request to me. I remembered this fabulous book (Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross) ...

had this rather cute pattern in it ...

and I also managed to find some deck-chair stripy material which I bought years ago and never used. Lo and behold - a shirt was born!

I must admit, I've never really seen the point of making clothes for the boy because they are so cheap to buy and it's always seemed rather pointless to make stuff which is so readily available. However, what I completely forgot about was the sheer joy you get when you see someone wearing/using something you've made!
Of course, when I proudly showed his father (who was jobsmacked, it has to be said) he immediately requested one for himself. So today I've been to the market and bought some lovely boy-style and man-style material (plus a little something for moi) and I am chomping at the bit to make some more shirts! Hee Hee. I love it.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Copy Cat

It was a very rainy day yesterday - like today - so what was a girl to do but catch up on some blogs? One in particular caught my eye - this one - which is all about being creatively thrifty and which I found really inspirational. So much so that I had to immediately dash out and get myself a wipeboard for the kitchen, which has already proved a great place to jot down the 101 things that I need to remember. My previous (small) blackboard just wasn't as user friendly.

So on here I can now put up my weekly menus, things to remember and stuff for the shopping list. Simples!

The other idea was a pretty simple one - one of those ideas that as soon as you try it you wonder why you didn't do it years ago. Mrs Thrifty is a very organised lady with her laundry and has set days for each type of wash, e.g. darks on Monday, handwash Tuesday, etc. I admit I'm not that organised (yet!), but the idea of having separate bags for each wash - instead of a laundry basket in each bedroom - seemed like a good one to try. So I did. Firstly I very thriftily made some laundry bags from old duvet covers. I've only made 2 so far and I'm using an existing laundry basket for sheets and towels. I think I may need another bag to keep downstairs in the utility room for tea towels and table linen. What I like about the bags is that you can immediately see how much washing there is, and then you can just pick up the whole bag and take it down to the machine, instead of dropping socks all the way downstairs with your arms full. As you can see, I still have quite a lot to plough through, despite every basket being empty last week ... such is life.

Meanwhile, one thing that is currently a little obsession of mine is pretty bed linen. Until a few weeks ago when the weather turned hot, I would not have been parted from my snuggly feather duvet. However, after searching the house high and low for the summer weight duvet it has mysteriously vanished and so an emergency sheet and blanket had to be found. And do you know, I actually quite like the old fashioned way of doing things! Somehow, the weight of the blanket and the crispness of the sheet is - perhaps - reminiscent of my childhood, I don't know. Anyhow, only having one flat sheet to my name, I realised that if I was going to spend the summer like this, I better invest in some sheets. And why not pretty ones? And I also have a bit of a thing for pillowcases. These (above) are Cath Kidston ones that I picked up for £6 A PAIR (yes!) from Holker Festival last weekend. Flamin' bargain if you ask me, I love them.

Well last night I decided to pick up this tapestry again. My brother gave it to me for Christmas and I went at it all January and then of course, such is the creative mind, I dropped it like a stone. But last night I just felt in the mood to do a bit more.

It will make a lovely cushion cover.

By the way, remember the sofa we bought on ebay on Sunday? Well we've contact the sellers and had no response at all! What does that mean? Does it mean they don't want to sell it anymore? Most strange.

Monday, 7 June 2010

And breathe out

Breathe in ... hold ... and breathe out. Phew. Half term over and the grandparent's 3 week stay is over too. There is now a faint chance that, after all the washing of sheets and towels and straightening of the house, I may, just may, get back to 'normal'. It is lovely to see my parents, but of course, everyday life changes when other people are in your house and speaking as someone who loves being at home, on their own, let's just say ... well, need I say? You know what I mean.

The only thing I've managed to achieve, creatively, is to finish the crochet blanket. Here it is folded in half (lengthways) on the back of the rocking chair. I blocked it last night, which has helped, as it was rather higgeldy-piggeldy when I finished it. It is beautifully warm, I have to say, thanks to the Debblie Bliss Cashmerino that I used.

I'm not sure what project I'm going to start next. My mum bought me a jelly roll to make her a quilt with, so I will start that at sewing class this week, plus I have a short-sleeved jumper which is nearing completion on the needles. I'm still plodding along with the hexes, although progress is slow. Perhaps a cushion cover will emerge soon.

Yesterday I did something I've never done before - bought something on ebay! I really do not like our lounge at the moment, the main problem being the 3-piece suite (which was bought quickly, in an emergency). It's far too modern for our cottage really. I'd rather not show you a picture because it really is not very nice. Anyhow, in my mind I have a picture of 2 lovely wing-back chairs, complete with blankets and cushions, plus a lovely sofa, ditto. So I started to look for a sofa, and there was one, cream, just right, only 15 mins left to bid and no bids! So I bid (encouraged by hubby). And now it's ours!! £50 and in mint condition (I hope). When we got the email which said Congratulations, we both looked at each other and said 'we've just bought a sofa', in a sort of state of shock! Of course, now I that I've started along this path - which, let's face it, was a bit of a whim and one which we cannot really afford - I now have to get some chairs and the walls will need papering and ... oh dear, what have I done?

Thursday, 3 June 2010


It's a sad post today, I'm afraid. Yesterday, a man went on the rampage in West Cumbria and shot 12 people, injured 25, all at random. We were caught up in the proceedings. The whole area was in lock-down; people told to stay at home, don't go out on the roads. We were enjoying a day out on the Ratty railway and were suddenly beseiged with police and helicopters as they tried to catch the mad man. The boy and my dad were on a train and my mother and I were waiting at the other end with a picnic. The train was stopped - because it went under a road bridge and they didn't know where the man's car was heading, so decided to stop the train (it's an open-top train). We were trying to phone each other, but all the networks were busy, as people started to panic. A policeman told us, 'there's a major incident, people have been shot' and that's all we knew for about an hour, until more rumours and details were slowly emerging. In the end, after a couple of hours, the man was found (dead - he shot himself) about 100 yards away from where they had boarded the train.

Later, at home, we watched the news and began to realise the enormity of it all and the lucky escape we'd had. I phoned my friend, a midwife - she'd been taking a clinic yesterday morning in Seascale where this guy killed 3 people, pretty much yards from the doctor's practise. The doctors and health workers there had to go and deal with it all - totally traumatic for all concerned, as they knew the victims.

My heart goes out to the victim's family - one woman was simply on her way home with 2 shoppping bags. So random. So pointless. So tragic.