17 December 2007

Autumn YCK Gallery

Following Covetable Socks workshop there was a lot of sock knitting going on during the latest series. Believe it or not, these were knitted by a beginner, whose first-socks-ever came off the needles no more than 3 months ago!

A lovely example of Pod Socks (size M-L):

Tricky green socks which proved to be a bit of a curse (won't go into details):

And more Pod Socks (unblocked):

One lucky dog called Biscuit got all these:

And this is what I worked on:
Opulent Silk Cardi, 2007.

Sensual Scoop (nearly there!), 2007.

27 October 2007

Every Girl Needs One Of These:

A Fluffy Bolero.

This one was designed by Erika Knight and features in her book "Simple Knits For Little Cherubs".

16 October 2007

Recycle Yarn Like A Pro

Yesterday I indulged in sharing my thoughts on the subject of conscious evolution and explored what sustainability means to me. Today I want to follow this philosophical article with a pragmatic one.
Recycled yarn is sustainability in practice. It's fun and so in vogue these days! Look around. Is anything you see begging to be frogged and re-invented?

Well, here is how.

This unwanted wrap was stored in various "out of the way" corners of the house for years until finally I decided to put it out of its misery.

Once frogging begun I started turning the endless spaghetti of yarn into neat skeins with the use of a swift. This can also be done with the use of niddy noddy.

Whilst at it, I gently skimmed the fuzz created by the last hand-wash of the garment.

The frogged yarn is a bit curly. Don't worry about it. It will relax in the soak.

I couldn't believe how much yarn was stored in that wrap! I frogged and frogged, and couldn't see the end of it. We are talking Rowan chunky wool here. 10's of GBP worth of it...

Once I produced several skeins I prepared some tepid water with a drop or two of Imse Vimse wool shampoo.

I than gently immersed wool in the soapy water and left soaking overnight.

When the soak is finished gently squeeze the excess water and wrap your skein/s into a clean fluffy towel. Place the towel on the floor. Have a stroll on top of it (if you happen to have a toddler around he/she will gladly assist in that).
Once that's accomplished hang out the skein/s to dry. This can take anything from one to few days depending on temperature and humidity.
Note: if you are soaking more than one skein at the time take care as tangling them up is easily done.

Wind the skeins into balls, double-checking for any overlooked bits of fluff.

Et voilà!

Speaking of recycled yarn, do check out Susan the Recycler's eBay store for a selection of lovingly recycled yarn.

And finally, my first knitted cushion for home is ready, and it is made of recycled sari silk hand-spun in Nepal.

The blue wool is for a small collection of hand-knitted cushion covers. Look out for them!

15 October 2007

Conscious Evolution

Today blogs team up to help environment. As sustainability is a matter very close to my heart, I simply cannot resist joining this initiative.

Sustainability is a much heard word these days. It would seam we are waking up to the importance of being responsible inhabitants of this planet. Good for us!
The whole notion of "saving the planet" strikes me as a major misunderstanding though. The planet Earth existed long before humans appeared on Earth and, as I imagine - in the worst case scenario, it will exist long after human race is extinct.

We are facing big issues. The climate is undergoing a dramatic change, and it appears to be a threat to us, but - really - should the worse happen, the life in its simplest manifestation will go on. That's why I'm not concerned about the planet being saved. I feel that we simply need to take care of ourselves. Maybe the time has come to replace self-centered, egotistic, reckless behaviours with ones that are expression of care. Care of which foundation is a REAL, cellular-level understanding that everything is interconnected and we all are an integral part of the world we live in. That by taking care of ourselves we will also take care of everything that needs to be taken care of, because they are different facets of the very same thing.

I think that there is a lot of emphasis and reliance on our intellectual ability to comprehend what is at stake here, in the present moment of the relatively short existence of the thinking and feeling creatures that we are, and an essential lack or deficit of a sort of understanding that springs directly from a fundamental shift in the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us (which includes other people), and the relationship between the two.

It might sound complicated but simply boils down to the inability to look at stuff with our hearts. Our minds rule, quite literally. Hence, another challenging issue on our hands is an escalating conflict between different cultures. We fail to acknowledge what we have in common and choose to focus on imagined dissimilarities.

If we don't evolve we will become extinct species. It's as simple as that. And it strikes me that it is our consciousness that needs to evolve, not so much our bodies.

There are conscious evolution curricula out there available to all those wanting to deepen their understanding of 'the bigger picture',explore ideas of how we got to where we are now, as a human race, as a civilization, how to get to see the paradigms we are operating out of and which our culture is based upon, how to make conscious choices in life, rather than mechanical ones.

I can recommend a handful of organizations based on my own experience.

First of all Concord Institute (formerly Community Health Foundation) with their brilliant curriculum integrating healthy eating, bodywork and an array of conscious evolution programmes.

Do check out Landmark Education with its inspiring vision (and a very convincing track record) of powerfully transforming people's relationships with themselves, others and life.

There also is Kindling Point, which is
"an educational initiative fostering awareness of the non-separate nature of life and supporting the unfolding of human potential".

Kindling Point is my personal favourite. It is a community based international organization the work of which I find to be right at the forefront of today's transformational work. Boldest, most courageous, most beautifully embracing the spirit, most heart-felt, most powerful - in my experience.

For me sustainability is a factor of love and knowing oneself. I can only be sustainable if I care with all my heart and don't give in to futile trains of thoughts "thinking" that I cannot possibly make any difference, and who am I anyway?

I am an expression of life on this planet. And so are you. We have hearts. We can choose.

14 October 2007

Alpaca de Valparaíso

"The ship dropped anchor in the bay amid the thousands of gulls shattering the air with their tremendous wings and ravenous screeches.Countless small boats bobbed on the waves, some filled with huge live conger eels and sea bass flopping desperately for oxygen. Valparaíso (...) was the commercial emporium of the Pacific: in its warehouses were stored metals, sheep and alpaca wool, grains, and hides for the world's markets."

Isabelle Allende, Daughter of Fortune.

12 October 2007

Phantasmagorical Yarn

Both skeins by Pluckyfluff, the ground breaking spinner and the author of Handspun Revolution.

11 October 2007

Considerate Director?

I am so proud of myself! I have managed to get children into a very neat bedtime routine, which means that they are dispatched off to bed at 7pm these days! I love this time of year - it doesn't take much convincing that it's VERY late when it's all dark outside. Hence, my peaceful evenings have expanded, and I'm getting back on track with the world of blogging knitters (I've got my priorities right, non?). In a successful attempt to avoid sorting out the paperwork for the accountant, I was surfing the net yesterday evening and found Penguin Horde, which diverted me to Personal DNA site.

I went off and did the test and was defined as a

I must say I tend to take this stuff with a generous pinch of salt, but this time I was impressed by the accuracy. Nick read the results laughing and repeating "This is so true!" Good entertainment/distraction, if that's what's required.

Top three highest scores were in the area of "Trust in others" (which I tend to express as "Trusting Life"), "Aesthetic" and "Attention to style". Lowest score of all was in the area of "Masculinity".
I must say it does explain how I ended up doing what I do.

10 October 2007

Covetable Socks

I only have a minute to let you all know how fabulous the last sock-making workshop was. Can I just say that I am impressed by the work produced by all the sock-making virgins. You can take my word for it - people arrived looking slightly apprehensive, unpacked their countless double pointed needles and, having had a cup of tea, braced themselves for whatever might come their way.

And lots did come their way. These weekend intensives are not called that for nothing!

I've managed to snap a few shots, so that I can show the world how the creative juices flew and what came into being.

These socks feature Partridge heel and a star toe:

The blue sock's twin is still on the needles. Lovely example of Dutch heel and toe:

The red socks are already famous. Click here to visit Miho's socks in a virtual gallery.

Long live the socks!

05 October 2007

Prick Your Finger

About 6 weeks ago children and I went to Victoria Park in East London to have a picnic. On our way back we stumbled upon this lovely shop.

Thought I would let you know so that you too can check it out. Well worth your while :) Run by Rachel and Louise. Can be found here

Be warned: we walked out with a bag full of wool.

28 September 2007

In The Mood For Blogging

This beauty is off to be auctioned at the charitable event at the Claridges next week. The event is being organized by the fundraising team at St. John's Hospice. It will hopefully fetch a tidy sum for the hospice and find a good home.
I just adore this beret. It is 100% finest Mongolian cashmere, and I seriously suspect that I won't be able to make it through the winter months without one myself!

Pod socks were a hit with Pod and I am pleased with how they came out. Currently working on the pattern, which will be available soon at Stitchville!

I found this ball of sari silk, hand-spun in Nepal, in the massive stack of yarn in the store room (yes, I need a store room for my yarn, that's a fact). I decided to make a cushion cover from it and made a start on it already.

I like the complete lack of restraint of this yarn, both colour and texture -wise. It would intimidate a bird of paradise, I am sure, it is so bright and soft.

This whole cushion thing leads me on to another thread of tale, which is that today is a special day (well, for me at least) as tonight I am hosting an inaugural social event here, in my house.

I had this idea some time ago, and it stuck around for long enough to become an item in my diary. I will be inviting a bunch of local women I know once a month. Some of them I bump into on the school runs, some are neighbours, some are my knitting students, and some are friends (and some are more than one of these at once!)
We will be meeting in my sitting room on every last Friday night of every month, to have a cup of tea and a catch up. A project of sorts obligatory (can be knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery). A sort of revival thing, inspired by the times past.
I'm curious how it will do in these busy times we live in. I'm hoping that it will be an opportunity for myself and all these busy women to relax in each other's company and enjoy ourselves thoroughly whilst being creative. We shall have open fires and mulled wine when the winter closes in on us. I am really looking forward to it, and so wish that some of you, dear fellow bloggers, were a bit closer so that I could include you in this invitation! Yes, I am hoping it will be terrific!

And this is where the sari silk cushion comes in! I've decided that I will follow a theme through these crafty nights. I am planning to make a large collection of soft, textured, unique, knitted cushion covers for home. Brainless knitting and will benefit the space too.

27 September 2007

Persona Non Grata

A main character in this story is Emilia. She is an avid knitter, who has fallen into the knitting trap so far that, in order to make things work, she ended up arranging her whole life around her passion. Luckily, this approach really worked, fitting perfectly with her artistic ambitions as well as her aspirations as a mother.

Emilia was delighted to find out that a new yarn boutique opened in a vicinity of her husband's office and became a regular customer and an enthusiastic fan of this Knitting Temple.

As seasons changed Emilia's vision slowly became a reality. Now she taught knitting and spent all her free time designing. Her work attracted attention of publishers. Her classes allured keen people wanting to learn the craft. She was in her element.

The Knitting Temple was owned and run by Sarah who was bent on making it a great success and who went about it in a very matter-of-factly fashion.

At the beginning her manner around Emilia was perfectly pleasant. However, as the months went by and it became obvious that Emilia's knitting classes were becoming an attractive alternative to the classes offered by the shop, shop-owner dropped her attempts at civility without further ado.

At first Emilia thought that maybe she was becoming overly sensitive and decided not to take any notice of this. After all, it would have been very presumptuous to think that she or, indeed, anything she did was a cause of Sarah's odd humours.

More time went by and more awkwardness stifled the air during subsequent visits to the shop. Sarah would flee from view when she saw Emilia coming in, and on few occasions when she was at the shop on her own, made every effort to attend everyone but Emilia.

Emilia ignored this, as she was optimistically inclined and thought Sarah a little extravagant, maladroit even, but definitely not vicious!

One day Emilia found herself near the Knitting Temple whilst out with her baby, and decided to dive in hoping to find a particular needle for her new project. As she entered, she noticed that there was only Sarah at the shop, which was otherwise deserted. She was working busily at the till and acknowledged Emilia with a reluctant nod. Emilia had a quick look at the needles on display and couldn't see the size she needed. She browsed quickly through a shelf stacked with colourful skeins of yarn. Little boy grew impatient and started whining. Emilia took her chosen skein of yarn to the till and waited patiently to be served, but Sarah appeared determined to take no notice of her customer. Emilia stood there, holding a skein of gorgeous alpaca yarn feeling heavy, weighed down by growing sense of unease as uncomfortably long minutes stretched into eternity.

Meanwhile Sarah was tapping away on the keyboard and happily talking to someone on the phone about bright jackets and her website, completely ignoring Emilia and her baby boy's loud protests.

How much more evident could Emilia's presence be? Barely a couple of steps away from Sarah, there was a storm of emotions surfacing within Emilia.

She put down the skein of yarn she was holding and walked out of the shop pushing the buggy with a disconcerted boy in it. As she was closing the door she saw a satisfied grin on Sarah's lips.

The Last Knit

Something to cheer you up. x

22 September 2007

Stupendously Fabulous YCK

It's hard to know where to start when there is so much to tell, so I uploaded the pictures randomly and now am going to follow through to tell you the fabulous tale of the You Can Knit course just past.

There was a small camp of "expecting" and "baby-adoring" participants, who were very much interested in creating gorgeous knits for the babies. Just look at this lovely cardi-to-be by Elie,

or this little baby tunic-to-be by Michelle - fit for an angel!

This little baby wrap top-to-be was only cast on in the session last week and is coming on very well. I believe it is destined to end up in a little wardrobe of gorgeous Teresa, who was a delightful participant of the August PicKnit and is very lucky indeed to have a passionate adorer in Stephanie, who happened to be on the course!

And here is another creation by Stephanie:

A fabulous scarf made of Noro silk blend - a short number to be worn with a glamorous pin (many more scarves were produced in the early stages of the course, all gorgeous and very different and very absent at this improvised photo shoot).

And below is the source of Pod's bewilderement in its early stages, to which I claim credit:

Barely one very busy week later it transformed into this:

Look out for proper pictures of these beauties, as well as the pattern which I am currently working on.

And below is the peplum for Kam's ambitious second project (after a lovely scarf she has produced at the beginning of the course) - a fab and ultra-complicated cardi.

This vest was produced in a couple of versions by one of the speediest participants and its twin is in Japan now (totally by accident via China), shipped as a gift for a very special person:

This cabled vest is just fabulous and in the fervour of today's session I missed my opportunity to photograph it on its maker!

Next comes an opulent silk cardi for Clara, which I am currently working on (look out for the free beginner-friendly pattern on Stitchville):

And here is a lonely wrist warmer - its mate is still on the needles and due to go to my wonderful mother-in-law tomorrow (yes, yes, I know, time is running out!).

And if all that was not enough, we were also treated by Stephanie to a delicious home-made carrot cake to mark the last session.

It's hard to believe that for most participants this was the very first encounter with the knitting needles , but it actually is the case! Amazing progress has been made by all and I am so very impressed by all the work that has been accomplished (I smile thinking of my very first projects).

Hip hip hooray for all of you! It was so much fun working with you all - keen, ambitious and fabulous people. Hope to see you around and keep it up with the knitting thing!