30 October 2006

Novelty factor

Oh, the thrill of internet shopping! On my return home there was a parcel waiting to be opened...



Here is what was inside - the address label and the shape of a box betrayed the secret, so it wasn't much of a surprise.



Still, I had a lot of fun switching them on to test "the glow".



Very pleased with my purchase indeed. Can't wait to test knit with those rather cool sticks ;)

Now, the trouble is that I need to find a secret place somewhere in the house to store them out of little hands reach or the batteries will be flat before I can say "supercalifragilistic"! I think this is quite suitable adjective, BTW.

29 October 2006

Sheepshop


Today we went on a little trip to a nearby town called Manningtree and had tea there. The highlight of the trip was that, unlike much more picturesque village of Dedham we visited a day before, which was furnished only with a miserable looking couple of shelves in a local convenience store designated to vulgar acrylics, the town boasted a little independent yarn shop called “Notions”.



The souvenir from that place is a small collection of finest Aran wool spun in Yorkshire, which is meant to be produced by Wensleydale sheep and be “the finest and most valuable lustre longwool in the world”.


It was a bit of discovery, as I haven't heard of them before and I do love the subtle sheen of the fibre. Colours are fab too. The yarn inspired an idea for a kiddie Aran jumper with a twist, but I am not letting on what the twist is going to be!

If you want any of it for yourself here are their details:
Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop
Cross Lanes Farm
Garriston, Leyburn
N. Yorks. DL8 5JU
Tel. & Fax. 01969 623840

Incredible luck

Yesterday we went on a trip to Colchester. On the way there I have realised that I have forgotten my bag and – most importantly – my purse. Let's not mention the camera, shall we?

This was bad news seeing that I was going to have a stab at finding a local yarn shop, where I could buy a souvenir that would feed my knitterly passions. Nick cheered me up offering that if we found such a shop he would buy me a souvenir, which I thought was: firstly – very generous and kind, and secondly – imprudent (in the name of love, I hope).

Anyway, we parked the car and merely walked for a couple of minutes in the direction of Colchester castle (Louis is obsessed with medieval history at the mo, especially castles and knights) when we stumbled upon an enormous shop called “Franklins Needlecraft Stores”. You can imagine how happily struck I was for a nano second before I plunged with enthusiasm straight in between vast shelves stacked with tons of yarns, textiles, books, threads, buttons, tools and serious crafty machinery. Oh joy!



I have to complement myself on how well I managed the shopping. I got soft merino wool in rich sombre colours for Oliver's Kaffe Fassett sweater (you see, I cannot stop this colour obsession – can't explain why, but it is addictive). I admit, we didn't have much time as it was getting on, but to tell the truth I'd rather Nick didn't know how much I am able to spend on yarn. I'd rather he was just suspecting than had a proof.

I am loving this holiday, it's so beautiful here. The beach house we are staying in is facing the estuary and the views are stunning. Boats are scattered all over mile wide river, air is fresh, beach – inviting, windows - enormous, and I spend all my free time knitting to the sing song of waves outside. Beautiful.




PS: Oliver-muffin has performed his first toddle today, as pictured below. Excuse this rather haphasardly notice , but I cannot resist sharing this photo. I wish you could have seen the xpression on his face! Priceless :)

Riot of colours



Knittings from Wrabness consist mostly of Kaffe Fassett's patern tests for Clara's new winter jumper. I have made one yesterday and it is drowning in a bowl of water at present. I will be blocking it later to work out the numbers for the cast on.

And here it is:

Now, this is a new interest for me, who stuck to the conviction that simple modern looks have more appeal, and so I concentrated more on technical excellence, perfect balance, refined simplicity with an occasional twist here and there and disregarded completely all that fussy colour work. But I must say that having kids has altered this opinion and I now enjoy just letting the inspiration come to me without any prejudice, and am not restricting myself to any particular look or feel.

Louis and Clara respond fantastically to colours and are so full of anticipation waiting for their sweaters to come off the needles! I love it!



My idea of a holiday.


I am learning so much with these projects. When I was knitting the test yesterday I discovered about half a dozen tricks, which I think will improve the final result hugely, i.e. : when working on round needles set up your work so that the wrong side of it is outside and you can control all the threads easily (if there is anything like easy control with Fassett's multi-coloured patterns) and mix tying and weaving techniques to even out the gauge and make sure that there are no nasty holes between different colour sections – what I find works well is to tie the yarn between long sections of different colours and weave the sections where colour change is very frequent, like 1 blue, 1 red, 1 blue, 1 red. It is amazing how results can vary depending on how the colours are put together – colour work makes for a very good entertainment.

The funny thing is that I have actually decided against this particular pattern, so it will be a surprise when I have something to show for this project :)

PS: When Iget weary of looking at tiny stitches I look out of the window and see ships and yachts that sail by.

Styling issues


It's half-term and time for yet another family trip this year (we are really getting better at this seeing that last year we hardly travelled anywhere – except to visit a charming pile of rocks in Wales, otherwise known as “the cottage”). I suppose we are getting used to the school rhythm and it does help that I am at home and have way more time to organise all this.
I spent all weekend packing and ticking items off my endless list of things to do and whilst I was at it I discovered that Oliver is shockingly short of warm clothes. So out of the storage came a little number, which I knitted for Clara when she was about 2. This little sweater was made of recycled cashmere bought at Susan Darling's eBay store and then adorned with an appliqu├ęd duck designed and executed by my very self. I washed it using my “busy mum” technique, which basically works as follows:

  • submerge garment in warm soapy water with an intention of coming back to it 15 minutes later

  • forget to return to the bathroom 15 minutes later

  • remember that you didn't finish washing the sweater whilst doing something out of the house

  • promise yourself that you will do it as soon as you come home

  • on return get distracted by a phone call

  • go to take a bath in the evening

  • see the sweater, which is still in the bucket in the bath tub

  • wash it

  • take it out

  • see with horror... (this doesn't always happen, but it does happen sometimes, when heavens decide you are due for a reminder lesson) that the colour has leaked!



It did leak from a cute pink head scarf onto golden locks of a stylish hair-do I felt inspired to give this snazzy duck.

So one of the items on my list to do during this holiday is “sort out the duck”. I did it today, and it proved more tricky than expected. I came up with a shortish version with big fringe, which I thought was OK. Then I showed it to Nick and he said (with a big grin on his face) something along these lines “Hmmm, this reminds me of those orthodox Jewish wigs that you see a lot of in Stamford Hill.” Now, as you can imagine, this stopped me in my tracks and I could never look again at the poor duck without thinking about wigs. Half an hour later I was determinedly undoing my work thinking furiously that the wigs and elegance do not mix. Second attempt has an altogether different air. It's more reminiscent of French country girl look with a cute shortish fringe and a neat plait tied with a ribbon. Decided to leave it at that.




This whole styling issue has yet another dimension, as Oliver might be seen wearing this sweater if the weather gets chilly. Believe me, I'd rather he wore Clara's special sweater than be seen in one of the acrylic thingies from a high street shop.

18 October 2006

She likes it!


Last year I decided to knit my daughter's Christmas present. I was determined to get it finished in good time although I started rather late and kept on being very distracted by Oliver, who at the time was a weenie baby of mere two months, as well as having to cope with my postnatal brain absolutely unable to think logically. I was spending all my waking hours (not consumed by activities that preoccupy young mothers) knitting. I remember frantically finishing off a day before Christmas Eve, wrapping it up in gorgeous red tissue and so looking forward to seeing this cosy wooly sweater on Clara.

You can imagine my dissapointment when young Lady opened her present and firmly refused to try it on. She just did not like it! Quite a few weeks went by before she reconsidered. Once she put the sweater on, it started growing on her that it is actually really warm and soft and noticed that people comment on how cute she looks in it. She eventually got to like it very much. But the sting of rejection was bitter. Of course I did my best not to take it too seriously, but still I would have preffered her to like it a lot from the start.

So you will understand how wonderful it felt when Clara just absolutely loved the cursed cardi from the very first second I presented it to her. It made all difficulties in the process of making it worthwile. It feels great to see her enjoy it so much, and look so damn cute in it!

14 October 2006

Knittings from Poland



I am on kind of a holiday. In some ways it is a holiday and in others it is not. Clara and Oliver are with me so I am not off parenting duty (having said that I am surrounded by willing child minders), but I am definitely off the hook as far as all house chores go. Hence I have a bit more time to knit. I am experimenting with new stitches & patterns and testing them for my next project, wrap around cardi. The yarn is just gorgeous: Rowan chunky tweed in yummy raspberryish hue with heavy notes of berriest red wine and speckles of blueberry blue. Simply trans inducing!

Whilst working on a generous gauge test I managed to display some overtly pro-knitting behaviours knitting on a bus, on a train (and at the station where I was waiting for the train, where I was chatted up by an elderly man clearly surprised by the sight of knitting needles, who then went on to reminisce how his mother used to knit jumpers for him when he was a little boy, inquire as to the nature of my project and generally being charming) and even managed to knit whilst I was waiting for the anaesthetic to kick in at the dentist's.

Here are the patterns I am pondering for the cardi, which - by the way - seams to be very much in alignement with this season's fashion for chunky knitwear, very wearable over sleek silk dresses or over a fine top with jeans.



PS: The colour in the photos is not as deep as in reality. I will have another go at capturing it with a different camera and in different light.

03 October 2006

La Knitterie Parisienne

If my concience would let me I would plan my holiday around visiting that place. It looks so wicked (as Louis would put it) and so tempting!

La knitterie Parisienne was set up by a Parisienne, Edith Eig. It is situated in the heart of Studio City, the suburb in LA where most of the major film studios are. Apparently good place for upmarket English yarns (let's face it - no need to go fetch wood from the desert when one lives in the woods) as well as for star spotting. To the point that when BBC came to film a piece on star spotting in LA they went just to three places: Rodeo Drive, Spago restaurant and La Knitterie Parisienne. I love Edith's idea of 'bees knees parties' where she provides yarn, needles and instructions for party guests who learn to knit. Fab idea.

Now, time for the novelty needles: Ta da!

THE KNIT LITE KNITTING NEEDLE.

The man behind these needles is nobody else but Ms Eig's significant other, who happened to be an engineer.

The New York Times was raving about those nifty sticks. And so I ordered some, mainly to shock my own husband (I think my enthusiasm for silly things like that rather amuses him :) And also because I really needed to treat myself having survived my daughter's playdate at our house in true style (do not under estimate what three 4 year olds are capable of).

So what that days are getting shorter! I will be laughing with those illuminated sticks. No doubt they will be a great attraction to my darling Oliver.

02 October 2006

Top Tip Time

I got a parcel this morning. It contained 4 boxes. These magic boxes have the power to keep moths at bay! The ironic thing is that the moths love them too.

I'm sure you can imagine, no... you KNOW what it's like to live in a house full of niches where the moths rule if you are a wool lover.

There was a time when I had propensity to take more relaxed and tolerant stance on house-sharing with moths. I probably needn't tell you what happened. Well, I had my gorgeous lot of softest buttery cashmere eaten up. That would be it for "love & peace" as far as the "m" horrors are concerned.

Having weighed the facts I decided to take action. I looked at all chemical stuff out there and decided that I wouldn't put it anywhere near my own person or my children (or anyone, in fact). Then came somewhat gutting discovery that lavender doesn't quite do it. Although, it cannot be denied that its calming properties are very excellent indeed for dealig with post-infestational trauma.

One day whilst I was chatting with my next door neighbour she told me how she is absolutely over the moon with those boxes she uses to control moths. Next thing I knew I was on line to order some for myself. I can tell you there is no going back!

Voila...



Those ingenius things are completely non-poisonous. "They are designed for monitoring and controlling moths through non-toxic substances of sexual attraction. Male moths are attracted to the glue board and thus cannot fertilise the females; the population will be decimated continously"

It's brilliant!

You can get them here.

And here is what happened to the moth eaten cashmere:



Cashmere scarf and a funnel hat dyed in madder, 2000.

PS: Did you read the article on moth infestation in the September issue of British Vogue by Alexandra Shulman? Food for thought. Better be safe than sorry!

PPS: Did I mention cedar wood cubes in air tight boxes. Works wonders and yarns and garments smell gorgeous too. You can get them from John Lewis (in the basement). If in doubt put yarn or sweaters in the freezer for a few days and it should take care of the problem (if there is any).

Must dash. Off to get novelty needles for my next project. More about it tomorrow or Wednesday (it's Louis' 6th birthday tomorrow so it might be a bit of a stretch to blog).

01 October 2006

It's my party and I'll knit if I want to!

I just finished reading Sharon Aris' book about Aussie knitting scene. Very fascinatig, and very witty. I had lots of fun with this book which in its design is "a light-hearted look at why knitting is the new cool". I admit, a lot of Aussie references were lost on me, but none the less I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It was a bit of a research for me into the current state of mind around knitting which (surprise, surprise) appears to be very much about timeless nurturing quality of just being present in the moment, like a medium which takes knitters to some place else where the constant chatter of the mind quitens down and it feels blisfully peaceful (except maybe for those instances where one works on a super complicated pattern or design and it feels like exactly the opposite!).

You can get this book at Amazon. To UK based knitters I would recommend Foyles, a brilliant independent bookshop.

If any of you really get the wicked side of being present in the moment there is another kind of thing I would recommend. Check this out: Kindling Point, a cutting edge organisation designed to foster awareness and dialugue (do not confuse with debate, discussion or other widely spread and, sadly, favoured means of communication, or not - as the case may be). Anyway, I am digressing.

Another thing is that I feel inspired to organise a knitting party this autumn and try this thing with socially enhanced knitting. Any of you live in London?